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1995: Many feared dead in Oklahoma bombing
A huge car bomb has exploded at a government building in Oklahoma City killing at least 80 people including 17 children at a nursery.

At least 100 people have been injured and the number of dead is expected to rise.

In an emotional speech, President Bill Clinton vowed "swift, certain and severe" punishment for those behind the atrocity.

"The United States will not tolerate and I will not allow the people of this country to be intimidated by evil cowards," he told a White House news conference this evening.

Trapped in the rubble

The blast happened just after 0900 local time when most workers were in their offices. It destroyed the facade of the ten-storey Alfred Murrah Building.

One survivor said he thought there was an earthquake: "I never heard anything that loud. It was a horrible noise...the roar of the whole building crumbling,"

There were scenes of chaos as paramedics treated the wounded on the pavement and rescue workers battled to dig out those still trapped in the rubble.

The building housed a children's nursery on the second floor as well as social security, customs, agriculture and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).

Some federal agents noted that the ATF mounted the operation two years ago today which ended the siege of David Koresh's Branch Davidian cult in Waco, Texas. However members of the cult commemorating the siege have angrily denied any connection.

The State Department would not discuss the possibility of this being a terrorist attack but the FBI and Oklahoma police put out an alert for three men believed to be of Middle Eastern origin driving a brown Chevrolet pick-up truck.

Sheikh Omar Abdel Rahman and ten of his supporters are currently on trial for the World Trade Center bombing in February 1993.

Government buildings in Washington and all over the US have been put on high alert. Federal offices in Wilmington, Boston and Rochester were evacuated after bomb scares.

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Almost the entire facade of the Alfred Murrah Building in Oklahoma was destroyed
There are at least 100 people injured and the death toll is expected to rise

Images from the aftermath in Oaklahoma

In Context
The Oklahoma bomb killed 168 people, including 19 children, and injured more than 500 others.

It took rescuers almost six weeks to recover the bodies of all the victims from the rubble.

Timothy McVeigh, a 33-year old Gulf War veteran, was convicted of the attack and sentenced to death by lethal injection after a two-month trial. He was executed at Terre Haute federal prison in Indiana on 11 June 2001.

The execution was watched via cctv by about 30 people including 10 survivors of the bombing and members of the media.

The motive for the attack was apparently retaliation against the US Government for the bloody end to a siege near Waco, Texas, in which 82 members of the Branch Davidian sect died.

In December 1997 his former army colleague Terry Nichols was convicted of manslaughter and conspiracy and sentenced to life in jail.

A third man, Michael Fortier, confessed to knowing in advance about the bombing and was sentenced to 12 years after agreeing to be a key witness for the prosecution.

In 2000 a memorial to the victims was opened by President Clinton at the site of the bombing.

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