Libyan Installation Heavily Damaged
Observers Call Last Week's Bombing 'Very Accurate'
TRIPOLI, Libya--United States warplanes heavily damaged a naval installation that U.S. officials said was a commando training base during the American raid last week on reputed terrorist targets in Libya.
Libyan officials yesterday allowed Western reporters to see parts of the Sidi Bilal naval installation, which includes Libya's naval academy, in the first tour by journalists of damage to purely military targets during the raid.
A West German teacher at Sidi Bilal described the bombing as "very accurate."
Reporters were not allowed inside a walled area which Libyan naval instructors indicated was an underwater training facility, and which Pentagon officials said was the main target of the attack against the seaside base, 10 miles west of Tripoli.
Reporters could see holes in the roofs of two buildings as well as many shattered windows within the walled area as their bus passed.
A half-dozen unshaven men, dressed in a mix of uniforms and civilian clothes, stood guard with automatic rifles at the gate.
Inside the base, reporters saw the remains of at least four buildings which had been flattened by direct hits Tuesday.
Libyan officials escorting reporters claimed the American fighter-bombers zeroed in on naval academy dormitories, the infirmary, a mess hall and several offices.
They said the air raid killed two naval cadets and injured 15, but that most of the estimated 300 cadets had been evacuated because a strike was expected.
"We had no air defense here," said an officer who identified himself as the academy's commander for the past seven years. The officer, who refused to give his name or rank, said he had no idea of the damage inflicted on the walled area, where Libyans are believed to receive training in underwater demolition and commando operations. He would not say what kind of activity went on in the walled area.
In academy classrooms, cadets aged 15-17 posed for photographers and television crews as they read their lessons.
One student said all the cadets were Arabs. One of the Libyan information department escorts quickly added, "They are all Libyans."
Several cadets declined to answer questions, saying they spoke only Arabic. Technical books clearly visible in the classroom were written in English.
Five days after Tuesday's raid, bulldozers were still scooping up rubble, forming huge mounds of shattered concrete, twisted metal and burned wood. Notebooks and text-books littered the compound's roads along with broken glass and sharpnel.
Hartwig Looft, an electronics teacher from Stuttgart, West Germany, who said he had been working for the Libyans for the last 24 years, said he heard a "big bang" and saw huge columns of smoke when the bombers struck.
"They were very accurate," Looft said.
Reporters also saw heavy damage to the academy's indoor swimming pool. There was no visible evidence of any permanent artillery or antiaircraft defenses around the academy, which covered an area the size of about three football fields near the beach.