Terror groups claim they bombed US warship

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Two terrorist groups have claimed responsibility for the blast which killed 17 sailors on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.

Two terrorist groups have claimed responsibility for the blast which killed 17 sailors on the USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.

One also claimed to be behind the blast which rocked the British embassy in Sana'a, the Yemeni capital, today.

Both are known to be radical Islamic groups.

A US Armed Services Committee spokesman said a group possibly linked to the terrorist Osoma bin Laden said it carried out the attack on the ship.

In the blast at the British embassy, a bomb is believed to have been thrown into the compound.

It caused extensive damage, though no-one was hurt.

A further 22 sailors injured in the attack on the USS Cole have been flown by American military planes to Germany for treatment.

Navy officials in the United States also said explosives experts who examined the ship's damaged hull have concluded the blast came from an external source, adding to evidence the blast was deliberate.

Western diplomats in Yemen said the explosion seemed to be the work of a well-organised group with good connections in the port of Aden who might have provided the bombers with some logistical support.

The diplomats said the boat used by the suicide bombers was similar to boats used by port authorities to guide vessels into port or facilitate ships with refueling.

Seven soldiers have been confirmed dead and the families of 10 who remain missing are being notified that they are presumed to have died in Thursday's explosion, US Navy spokeswoman Lt Cdr Cate Mueller said in Washington. Efforts to recover their remains were continuing, she said.

In addition, 35 sailors were injured in Thursday's blast, which tore a hole 20 feet to 40 feet in diameter. US officials say suicide bombers blew up a small boat next to the 9,100-ton destroyer.

The French Defence Ministry said its army planes had taken 11 of the injured overnight to Bouffard military hospital in Djibouti, where six underwent surgery. Lt Terrence Dudley, a US Navy spokesman, said 22 others were evacuated to Germany. Two, apparently less seriously hurt, remained in Aden.

In Germany, officials at the Ramstein Air Base said they were expecting bodies of the dead sailors to begin arriving later today and the injured late Friday or early Saturday. The injured were to be taken to the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a US military facility.

Dudley said some of the injured USS Cole sailors were in serious condition and others were stable. He did not elaborate.

American investigators as well as US Marines and soldiers filled Aden, bringing in equipment to search for clues beneath the water near the USS Cole. Sniffer dogs also were seen being brought to the area.

Dudley said investigators may keep working at the site another two days. The USS Cole, one of the world's most advanced warships, was left slightly tilted in Aden harbor.

"The ship took some water and we are trying to dewater it. But, generally, it is seaworthy and we will tow it to the United States," said Dudley, of the Bahrain-based US 5th Fleet.

The Cole is a $1bn guided missile destroyer home-ported at Norfolk, Virginia. It was heading with a crew of about 350 to the Gulf for maritime intercept operations in support of the UN embargo against Iraq.