BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 23, 1983 (UPI) - The U.S. Marines lost more men in a single suicide bomb attack Sunday than in the previous 14 months of service as peacekeepers in Lebanon. The same was true for their French counterparts.
Terrorists on separate suicide missions detonated trucks filled with explosives outside the headquarters of the two contingents in the multinational force in Beirut, killing at least 120 Marines and at least 25 French soldiers.
Rescue teams of Marines who survived the blast, as well as Italian peace-keeping troops and Lebanese army and civil defense, scoured the rubble for possible survivors.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the Sunday attack.
Since August, there have been at least 11 attacks on American forces by leftists, Druze and Shiite gunners. A total of seven Marines were killed and 61 were wounded in war-related incidents.
The French had lost 18 soldiers to terrorist attacks and 55 others were wounded.
The first American died on Lebanese soil Sept. 30, 1982 -- only a few days after the Marines had returned to Beirut following a brief absence during which Palestinians were massacred in refugee camps.
The Marine died accidentally when a cluster bomb he was dismantling blew up in his hands.
This year, two Marines were killed and 14 were wounded Aug. 29 in mortar attacks on Beirut airport.
Two more were killed Sept. 6 in rocket attacks on the Marine base. A sniper killed a Marine Oct. 14 and another was killed Oct. 16 in a 7-hour attack on Lebanese University post.
On April 18, a Marine guard was killed in the bombing of the U.S. embassy that killed more than 60 people, including 17 Americans. The Marine was not assigned to the U.S. peacekeeping force.
The Marines have fought back. Units of the U.S. Sixth Fleet anchored off the Beirut coast shelled hostile artillery emplacements and U.S. warplanes have flown reconnaissance missions.
There also have been repeated snipings, bombings and rocket assaults on U.S. troops in Lebanon that wounded troops and destroyed property. The attacks include:
--Two artillery rockets May 1 landed within the compound of the U.S. ambassador's residence in Beirut, shattering windows.
--A helicopter carrying Col. James Mead, commander of the Marines in Beirut, was hit by ground fire on a surveillance mission May 5.
--A remote-control bomb June 11 shattered windows at Marine compound.
--Lebanon's multinational peackeeping forces were put on alert March 16 following wounding of seven U.S. Marines and eight Italians in two attacks.
--Katyusha rocket on April 30 exploded 100 yards from the U.S. ambassador's residence in Beirut where Secretary of State Shultz was spending the night.