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Libya Diplomat Suspected in Bombing, Berliner Says

Associated Press

A Libyan diplomat based in Communist East Berlin is suspected of directing the weekend bomb attack that wrecked a crowded West Berlin nightclub popular with American soldiers, a West Berlin official said Tuesday.

The official confirmed a report in the West German newspaper Bild that Elamin Abdullah Elamin, 47, was “urgently suspected” of directing the attack on the La Belle discotheque early Saturday. Two people were killed, including an American serviceman, and nearly 200 were wounded.

“This report is correct,” said the official, who is close to the investigation and who spoke on condition of anonymity.

No Elaboration Given

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The official would not elaborate and referred further queries to the 100-member police commission investigating the bombing.

A man who answered the telephone at the Libyan Embassy in East Berlin, capital of Communist East Germany, hung up when asked for comment on the newspaper report.

Bild said that at a meeting today, Chancellor Helmut Kohl’s Cabinet will consider expelling two Libyan Embassy staff members that the newspaper said were suspected of involvement in the disco bombing. The paper gave no further details, and a government spokesman said he could not confirm the report.

Dieter Piete, deputy chairman of the investigating commission, said police do not believe that Elamin planted the bomb himself, “but as to whether he is suspected as an organizer or had any other link, I will not say no.”

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‘Trail Could Go Cold’

He refused to comment further on the Bild report, saying, “Hypothetically, if we confirmed something like this, the trail could go cold.”

“There are hints not just regarding Libyans, but to Arabs of other nationalities--Palestinians and so forth--and also to German attackers,” Piete said. “We cannot ignore any aspect.”

Sgt. Donald Banks, a U.S. Army spokesman in West Berlin, said 30 of the 63 Americans injured were still hospitalized Tuesday. He said two American soldiers were in critical condition and two U.S. civilians in serious condition, all with burns.

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Those killed were Kenneth T. Ford, a 21-year-old Army sergeant from Detroit, and Nermine Hanay, 28, a Turkish woman living in West Berlin.

West Berlin newspapers speculated earlier this week that the bombing was committed by a foreigner who crossed from East Berlin and then returned.

Although East Germany built a wall around the Communist sector in 1961 to keep its citizens from crossing into West Berlin, it does little or nothing to stop foreigners from doing so. Checks of such people on the western side are rare.

Officials in Bonn, capital of West Germany, said they have increased surveillance of the Libyan Embassy and tightened border controls.

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Bild said Elamin was transferred to East Berlin last year from Libya’s embassy in Bonn.

U.S. Ambassador Richard R. Burt and other American officials have said there are strong indications that Libya was behind the bombing.

Libyan leader Moammar Kadafi threatened terrorist attacks on American targets around the world after the confrontation in the Gulf of Sidra two weeks ago between his forces and the U.S. 6th Fleet.

West German security authorities have conducted periodic surveillance of the Libyan Embassy because of violent clashes between Libyan nationals living in West Germany.

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Libyan emigre Gebrel Denali, an opponent of Kadafi, was shot to death on a Bonn street in April, 1985. Another Libyan, Fatahi Tarhoni, was convicted of the murder.


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