Time Bomb Defused Outside British Library in W. Beirut
Police explosives experts defused a time bomb outside a British library in West Beirut on Thursday, and seven Frenchmen fled the Muslim sector of the Lebanese capital amid mounting fears of new terrorist attacks on Westerners.
Officials said the bomb, spotted by a pedestrian, was dismantled just 15 minutes before it was to have gone off.
The seven Frenchmen, all teachers, were driven out of West Beirut to the relative safety of the Christian eastern section of the capital. The evacuation almost emptied West Beirut of a once-active Western community of teachers, administrators and journalists.
“In all, about 100 foreigners have left West Beirut this month, and the evacuation was escalated with the murder of two Britons last week in revenge for the U.S. air attack on Libya last week,” said a police spokesman.
“A few foreigners may have stayed behind, but we think most of them have dual nationality or are married to Lebanese,” said the spokesman.
The bullet-riddled bodies of two British schoolteachers and an American hostage, American University of Beirut librarian Peter Kilburn, were found last week. A pro-Libyan group said the hostages were killed to retaliate for the April 15 U.S. air raid on Libya and British support for the attack.
Another pro-Libyan group claimed Wednesday that it hanged another British hostage, U.N. writer Alec Collett, in revenge for the U.S. attack.
Pro-Iranian Islamic Jihad terrorists say they hold four American hostages. They also claimed to have executed a fifth, U.S. Embassy official William Buckley, but his body has not been found.
A police spokesman said a pedestrian reported a “suspicious-looking plastic bag” outside the British library, a three-story building in a residential neighborhood of West Beirut.
He said closer examination revealed a time bomb consisting of 33 pounds of incendiary chemicals attached to two pounds of TNT and a clock.
The attempted bombing was the latest in a series of attacks against British targets in West Beirut.