'We heard the planes coming in. We heard bombs exploding'


TRIPOLI, Libya, April 15, 1986 (UPI) - Tripoli residents, awakened at 2 a.m. by explosions, fled, terrified, into the streets on foot and in cars, jamming roads and honking their horns as smoke from the attack drifted across the city.

Tracer fire lit the sky and Libyan anti-aircraft batteries blasted away at the attacking planes as they roared over Tripoli. The fire did not appear to hit any of the American planes.


I was in the residence of the British consul to Tripoli when the bombing started. The attack lasted about 25 minutes.

We heard planes coming in. We heard bombs exploding.

The windows started shaking. We went up to the roof. We saw tracer fire going up and could hear the pounding noise of anti-aircraft fire. The anti-aircraft fire continued about 15 minutes after the raid ended.

Smoke came from the direction of the Wheelus air base, about a mile from my vantage point. I could see the smoke, but I did not see any flames.

Everyone rushed into the streets. We tried to get back from the consul's residence to the hotel where the journalists were based. Khadafy's Revolutionary Committee guards poured into the streets.


A doctor at Tripoli's Central Hospital said between 60 and 100 people were wounded in the American attack, and Libyan Television appealed to the Libyan people to donate blood.

Libyan Radio broke into its regular broadcast of patriotic songs to announce some members of Khadafy's family had been injured in the raid and that planes bombed a residential area near Khadafy's home.

Bombs hit Khadafy's residence -- where the Libyan leader lives with his wife and seven children -- but the extent of damage was not immediately known.

In my last interview with Khadafy, he said he believed his headquarters was a target and said, ''It is a strange war when you start looking for people in their houses.''

In a tour three hours after the bombing, I saw one man, identified as Mohamed Ibrahim M'sheri, pulled dead from a damaged home -- his head bloodied. Another dead man was pulled from the rubble near a residential area in the French Embassy area.

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