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Libya Fires at Coast Guard Station in Mediterranean

April 15, 1986|Associated Press

TRIPOLI, Libya — Libya struck a hit-and-run blow against a remote U.S. Coast Guard station in the Mediterranean today and summoned fellow Arabs to an "hour of revenge" against America for its pre-dawn air raid on Tripoli.

In its first retaliatory attack, Libya claimed to have destroyed the U.S. maritime navigation station on Italy's tiny Lampedusa island, 175 miles north of here. But U.S. officials said two missiles fired from a ship or warplane fell short.

In Rome, a spokesman for Premier Bettino Craxi, Antonio Ghirelli, termed the shooting incident "very small" and said a motor launch fired when it was four miles from the island.

2 Missiles Seen

Earlier in the day, Tripoli state radio said Libyan forces had destroyed a U.S. facility on hilly, seven-mile-long Lampedusa, where 30 Coast Guard and Navy personnel run a LORAN-C electronic navigation station.

Coast Guard spokesman Nicholas Sandifer in Washington indicated that two missiles were seen "landing in the water" near the island. He said there were no casualties on the island, which has a population of 4,000.

Most of the Americans at the station are Coast Guard members, Sandifer said, although the Navy also has some men on the island.

Airfield on Island

Sandifer said most LORAN-C navigation stations have electronic equipment that sends signals for navigational use by ships and planes. But a Navy source said there is an airfield on the island that could be used by Navy planes. The source spoke on condition of anonymity.

Meanwhile, Libyan radio declared that "the hour of unity and revenge has struck" and called on Arabs in neighboring states to attack American and European targets and interests in the region.

The official Libyan news agency said Arab ambassadors were summoned to the Foreign Ministry here and urged to have their countries take "practical action" against the United States and Britain, where the F-111s that took part in the bombing run are based.

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