WASHINGTON — The Navy declared an official death toll of 17 in the bombing in Yemen of the USS Cole after the last four sets of remains were recovered from the crippled destroyer Thursday.
Nine bodies have been positively identified. The names of the other eight are known, but their bodies could not be positively identified after recovery. Identifications will be completed after their return to the United States.
The attack, which American officials blame on terrorists, was the deadliest against an American military target since 19 Air Force personnel died in a 1996 truck-bomb explosion in Saudi Arabia.
For record-keeping purposes, the Pentagon established in 1993 a separate category of "died in terrorist action" among military victims of hostile activity. The category was begun with the deaths of 10 U.S. troops in clashes with tribal factions in Somalia. Military deaths from terrorism rose to 19, again from violence in Somalia, where American force intervention saved thousands from starvation, before U.S. troops pulled out in late 1993.
The 17 sailors killed aboard the Cole were the first Navy deaths from terrorist action since the Pentagon began counting.
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