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Monday, 30 October, 2000, 00:46 GMT
Battered US warship heads home
USS Cole being towed out
The once mighty USS Cole now reliant on tugboats
The American warship severely damaged earlier this month in a bomb attack in Yemen has been towed out of the port of Aden.

Yemenis watching the ship leaving from the port
Yemenis watched the ship leaving from the port
As the battered destroyer glided out of the harbour, sailors stood to attention and saluted the American flag to the music of the national anthem, the Star Spangled Banner.

The 12 October blast killed 17 sailors and left a gaping hole in the side of the USS Cole.

The destroyer was towed by yellow tugs and will be loaded onto a Norwegian heavy-lift vessel, which will take it back on its five-week journey back to the US.

Yemeni authorities have reached major, positive results in their investigation

Yemeni minister
"She left with some help from her friends, but she still left very proudly," the US Ambassador to Yemen, Barbara Bodine, said of the ship.

The procession was led by two US patrol boats, and included a helicopter flying overhead.

Correspondents say the departure of the USS Cole was a relief for many ordinary Yemenis uncomfortable with an American presence in the port.

Many Yemenis are angry with the US over what they believe to be bias towards Israel over the Palestinians.

The recent tight security in the port had also made it difficult for Yemeni fishermen to work.

Egyptian suspect

Yemeni authorities said on Sunday that they had information on a second suspect involved in the blast.

Hole in the side of the USS Cole from blast
The damage that crippled USS Cole

"Yemeni authorities have reached major, positive results in their investigation," Yemeni Interior Minister General Hussein Arab said.

"One result is the determination that one perpetrator of this operation is Egyptian."

Osama bin Laden

Ms Bodine said the investigation into who carried out the attack could be a very long one.

Barbara Bodine,  US ambassador to Yemen
Ms Bodine said the investigation could be long
American officials believe a group led by the millionaire Saudi dissident Osama bin Laden may be responsible.

The USA Today newspaper reported on Friday that US intelligence agents had "hard evidence" that he was behind the bombing.

The US has accused the bin Laden - who has taken refuge in Afghanistan - of masterminding the 1998 US embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania in which more than 220 people died.

On Saturday, the US called on the Yemeni authorities to allow American experts to carry out their own investigation.

Jihad group

On Wednesday, Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh said the several suspects arrested included "top leaders" of the Islamic Jihad organisation from Yemen, Egypt, Algeria and other Arab states.

Ali Abdullah Saleh
President Saleh: Investigation is going "very well"
He did not say how many people were in custody.

The militants had come to Yemen after fighting against Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s, he said.

Suicide bombers are believed to have manoeuvred a small boat packed with explosives next to the USS Cole and detonated it.

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See also:

26 Oct 00 | Middle East
Yemen bomb suspects held
24 Oct 00 | Middle East
American troops on high alert
19 Oct 00 | Middle East
Yemen blast inquiry yields clues
18 Oct 00 | Middle East
Clinton pledges to hunt Yemen bombers
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Explosion hits UK Yemen embassy
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Terror alert after US warship blast
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