Service held to mark 20 years since Oklahoma City bombing

2015-04-19 22:21
People watch from the edge of the reflecting pool in front of the 9:03 gate during a remembrance ceremony for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. (Doug Hoke, AP)

People watch from the edge of the reflecting pool in front of the 9:03 gate during a remembrance ceremony for the victims of the Oklahoma City bombing. (Doug Hoke, AP)

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Oklahoma City - About 1 000 people gathered on Sunday to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Oklahoma City federal building bombing, which was the deadliest terrorist attack on US soil until the September 11 attacks six years later.

Former President Bill Clinton and Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin were among those who spoke at Sunday's service at the Oklahoma City National Memorial & Museum, where the Alfred P Murrah Federal Building once stood.

The service started with a 168-second moment of silence to honour each of the 168 people who died in the April 19 1995, attack. It concluded about 90 minutes later with survivors and tearful relatives of the dead reading the names of those killed.

"This was a place of unspeakable horror and tragedy," said former Oklahoma Governor Frank Keating, who had completed his first 100 days in office the day before the attack. "How some evil individual would do what he did ... is unforgiveable and absolutely unimaginable."

"The agony was consistent. The agony appeared never to end," Keating said.

FBI Director James Comey and others paid tribute to those who took part in the recovery efforts.

"In an instant, this day was transformed into a moment of history, a moment of unspeakable horror and darkness," Comey said. "It is not the moment that defines us. It is not the act itself that shapes our destiny. It is what comes next."

Timothy McVeigh, an Army veteran with strong anti-government views, planned the bombing as revenge for the deadly stand-off between the FBI and the Branch Davidian sect in Waco, Texas, that killed more than 70 people on April 19 1993 - exactly two years earlier.

McVeigh was convicted on federal murder and conspiracy charges in 1997 and executed in 2001.

His Army buddy, Terry Nichols, was convicted on federal and state bombing-related charges and is serving multiple life sentences in a federal prison.

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