Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Tripoli & Benghazi bombed by USA 29 years ago today

[On this date in 1986, US strike aircraft flying out of RAF Lakenheath bombed targets in Tripoli and Benghazi. What follows is a contemporary report on the BBC News website:]
At least 100 people have died after USA planes bombed targets in the Libyan capital, Tripoli, and the Benghazi region. Around 66 American jets, some of them flying from British bases launched an attack at around 0100hrs on Monday.

The White House spokesman, Larry Speakes, has said that the strike was directed at key military sites but reports suggest that missiles also hit Bin Ashur, a densely populated suburb in the capital.

Colonel Muamar Gaddafi residential compound took a direct hit that killed Hanna Gaddafi, the adopted baby daughter of the Libyan leader.

President Reagan has justified the attacks by accusing Libya of direct responsibility for terrorism aimed at America, such as the bombing of La Belle discoteque in West Berlin 10 days ago.

President Reagan made a TV address to the American people two hours after the attack.

In it he said : "When our citizens are attacked or abused anywhere in the world on the direct orders of hostile regimes, we will respond so long as I'm in this office."

He argued that America was exercising its right to self defence as defined by Article 51 of the UN charter.

The presidential spokesman, Larry Speakes, said, "US forces have executed a series of carefully planned air strikes against terrorist targets in Libya."

He added: "Every effort has been made to avoid hitting civilian targets."

The attacks began soon after an increase in coded radio traffic between US ships and planes off the Libyan coast had been noticed.

The fighter jets appear to have been both carrier based aircraft, operating in the Mediterranean and British based bombers which would have refuelled in mid air.

The Americans hit the harbour's naval academy, the capital's military airport and army barracks.

Tripoli's embassy area and residential districts also suffered extensive damage.

The Tripoli central hospital and two other medical centres say they have treated hundreds of injured people, including a number of Greeks, Italians and Yugoslavs.

Mobs of angry survivors have taken to the streets shouting: "Down, down USA. Death to all Americans."

There are also fears that Britain may be subject to terrorist attacks because some of its involvement in the raids.

The Syrian based terrorist group, Arab Revolutionary Cells, has announced on Lebanese radio that it will target both British and American interests.

[RB: A fuller account of the operation (code-named Operation El Dorado Canyon) can be found here. IF the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 in December 1988 was a Libyan operation, the April 1986 Tripoli/Benghazi raids are usually said to have provided the motivation. If, as some contend, the Lockerbie bombing was carried out by the PFLP-GC at the behest of Iran, then the motivation may have been the July 1988 shooting down of Iran Air flight 655 by the USS Vincennes.]

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