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The BBC's Jonny Dymond
"The FBI continues to send investigators to Yemen"
 real 28k

Sunday, 15 October, 2000, 02:03 GMT
Bodies of US sailors flown home
Memorial in Norfolk, the home port of the USS Cole
The city of Norfolk is in mourning its dead crew
Flags are flying at half-mast in the United States after the bodies of five of the 17 sailors killed by an apparent suicide bomb attack in Yemen arrived home on a military transport plane.

The C-17 plane, travelling via a US military base in Ramstein, Germany, landed in Dover, Delaware on Saturday but journalists were refused access.


The C-17 plane
The plane was received by high-ranking Navy officers
During a short private ceremony, high-ranking Navy officers and two chaplains saluted the five victims.

The sailors, ranging in age from 19 to 35, were killed when a small boat exploded alongside the US destroyer USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden on Thursday.

Two other bodies have been identified. The bodies of 10 more sailors have not been recovered.

Two of the victims, women aged 19 and 22, were the first female sailors killed since women were first allowed to serve on battle ships six years ago.

The White House has announced that President Bill Clinton and Defence Secretary William Cohen will attend a memorial service to be held on Wednesday at the USS Cole's home port of Norfolk, Virginia.

Video evidence?

In his weekly radio address on Saturday, the president expressed condolences to the sailors' families and vowed to "do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes, to find those who killed our sailors, and hold them accountable".


Yemen map
He described the explosion as "an apparent terrorist attack" and called those who carried it out "hate-filled cowards".

In a letter to Congress he said extra US forces might be deployed to Aden to boost on-site security for the USS Cole.

A team of military personnel was sent to protect the badly damaged vessel immediately following the attack, but the president did not specify how many more people would be deployed.


US President Bill Clinton
President Clinton blamed the attack on terrorists
More than 100 FBI evidence and explosives experts were expected in Aden by the end of the weekend to investigate the cause of the blast. The ship did contain surveillance cameras but it was not clear whether any images could help the investigation.

Yemen has rejected US claims that the explosion was a terrorist attack. The foreign ministry said it "does not accept the presence of terrorists on its territories."

'Warning'

In Germany, where 39 injured sailors were flown for treatment, US Air Force Colonel James Rundell said more than 30 of them could fly home as soon as Sunday.

He said doctors had operated on six sailors other sailors or who would stay in hospital for days or weeks.

"Some may require a couple of operations, some rehabilitation," he said. "It might be one or two weeks before they go back to the United States."

The United States received a vague warning last month of a possible attack on a US warship, the New York Times reported on Saturday, citing senior military officials.

According to the report the information came from "an intelligence source in the Arab world", but it did not specify in what country the attack might take place.

Neither the Pentagon nor the US Navy could confirm the report on Saturday.

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See also:

13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Attractive base for anti-West Islamists
13 Oct 00 | Middle East
Explosion hits UK Yemen embassy
19 Jul 00 | Country profiles
Country profile: Yemen
13 Oct 00 | Africa
US closes African embassies
14 Jan 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Yemen: Arabia's 'Wild West'
13 Oct 00 | UK
Guarding our embassies
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