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French Planes Attack Libyan Bases in Chad

January 07, 1987|Associated Press

PARIS — French jet fighters today attacked strategic radar installations held by Libyans in northern Chad in retaliation for a weekend Libyan bombing raid in the southern part of that African nation.

A Defense Ministry statement said the radar installations at Ouadi-Doum were "neutralized" in the afternoon raid by forces of Operation Sparrowhawk, the 1,400 French soldiers based in the former French colony to support President Hissen Habre's government.

France had said earlier that it was considering a response to Libyan bombing of two towns deep in southern Chad on Saturday.

The French news agency Agence France-Presse, quoting reliable sources, said the raid was made by about 10 planes from bases in N'Djamena, the Chadian capital, and Bangui, capital of the neighboring Central African Republic. It said the Libyan installations were hit by anti-radar missiles.

Chad is Libya's neighbor to the south, and French and U.S. sources say Col. Moammar Kadafi's government keeps thousands of troops in northern Chad.

France established in 1983 what it calls an "interdiction line" along the 16th Parallel to stop Libyan-backed rebels from driving south to N'Djamena, the Chadian capital, and overthrowing Habre.

Some of the rebels recently turned against Libya when their leader, Goukouni Oueddei, switched to Habre's side. Goukouni is said to be under house arrest in Tripoli after being injured in a shoot-out with his Libyan guards.

France's policy has been to respond with air strikes if Libyan forces or rebels move south of the 16th Parallel.

Today's attack was the second time in less than a year that the French have struck Ouadi-Doum after a Libyan raid south of the 16th Parallel. French forces raided the airstrip Feb. 16.

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