Douglas Sidialo woke up in a Nairobi hospital 10 years ago, devastated to find he had been blinded by flying glass after al-Qaida bombed the American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania.
His thoughts immediately turned to revenge on terror leader Osama bin Laden.
"I could have skinned him alive," said Sidialo, who was among the hundreds marking the 10-year anniversary Thursday of the bombings that killed more than 200 people and wounded 5,000.
The bombings on Aug. 7, 1998, were the first major al-Qaida attack on U.S. targets. The alleged mastermind, Fazul Abdullah Mohammed, has been on the run for years; he apparently escaped a police raid on the Kenyan coast last weekend.
On Thursday, Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Mohammed's recent escape shows the country remains at risk.
"The stark revelations of the last few days have reminded us yet again that we have terrorists in our midst still planning awful deeds," Odinga said during a ceremony at the downtown site of the former embassy, which is now a memorial garden.
Mohammed still has a $5 million bounty on his head.
"We must therefore never relax our vigilance against these extremists," Odinga told the crowd of about 400. "Let me assure Kenyans that this government will do everything possible to prevent us from ever again being attacked."
Odinga also said the world needs to resolve the political crises of the Middle East and nearby Somalia, or else "new extremists will continue to be created."
Buried under rubble
George Mimba, a technology manager, said he was working at the U.S. Embassy in Nairobi 10 years ago when a pickup rigged as a bomb exploded outside the four-story building. Within minutes, another bomb shattered the U.S. mission in Tanzania's commercial capital, Dar es Salaam.
Mimba, 44, said he can still see his colleagues buried under smoldering rubble and can still picture Nairobi's streets stained with blood.
"That day is still as fresh as today," Mimba said at a somber ceremony at the embassy.
Mimba said he was thrown to the floor when the bombs went off. He quickly regained consciousness and jumped out of the second floor "so that my body could be found intact."
"I do not know why I survived. I do not know what God wants me to do," Mimba told The Associated Press.
The U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Michael Ranneberger, said during both ceremonies that Kenya and Tanzania were honoring the victims by strengthening their democracies to prevent another attack in the future.
'Violence of evil men'
U.S. President George W. Bush, during a tour of Asia, said the anniversary "reinforces the need to confront the terrorists, to work with our allies to bring them to justice, and to prevent such attacks from happening again."
In Washington, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice recalled Aug. 7, 1998, as a "dark day" that seemed at the time like "the senseless violence of evil men." She said the ensuing al-Qaida attacks in the years that followed — culminating in Sept. 11 — show the embassy bombings were just the start of a campaign of terror.
"We see them as they were: as the opening of a new twilight struggle between hope and fear, peace and hatred, freedom and tyranny, a struggle that has now finally fully been joined," Rice said at a commemorative event Thursday.
"And on that day, we saw in response from our diplomats and development workers, our soldiers and our citizens, our friends and our allies what is best in humankind and why we shared — why our shared values will prevail," she said.
An American, a Jordanian, a Saudi Arabian and a Tanzanian were convicted in the United States for the 1998 bombings and are currently serving life sentences. One of them, American Wadih El-Hage, a former associate of bin Laden, is appealing his conviction.