Tripoli and Benghazi Bombing

Following a deadly 1986 bombing of a Berlin nightclub, U.S. president Ronald Reagan accused Libya of planning the attack and ordered a “counterterrorist” military mission. In a controversial operation, U.S. planes bombed Libya, hitting the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi. It was the first time the United States had bombed another country to, as Reagan officials announced, preempt terrorist acts.

Relations between the United States and Libya had been strained long before the air strike. In March 1986, U.S. Navy bombers destroyed two Libyan patrol boats in the Gulf of Sidra in a brief exchange of fire. Less than a month later, a knapsack packed with nails and explosives detonated in the crowded West Berlin discotheque La Belle, a popular nightspot for American soldiers. The April 5 blast killed a U.S. soldier and a Turkish woman and injured more than 200 people—62 Americans among ...

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