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Bomb Kills Libyan Diplomat, Injures French Diplomat

January 11, 1988 GMT

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) _ A grenade attack today in a building housing four embassies killed a Libyan diplomat and wounded four people, including the French cultural attache, police said.

In London, a previously unknown group calling itself the Uganda Federal Army claimed responsibility for the 8:30 a.m. attack. The caller claimed Palestinian terrorist Abu Nidal had been in the building, but escaped unharmed.

The caller said the group was fighting Libyan and communist influence in Uganda and that the dead man, identified by police as embassy administrative officer Ayyad Abeid Matus, led a regional terrorist network.

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There was no confirmation of the caller’s claims.

French cultural attache Jean-Daniel Neveu was wounded in the attack, but not seriously. Initial incorrect reports said he had lost a leg.

Three Ugandans also were injured in the blast, including Matus’ secretary, Bamalig Musoke.

The bombing occurred in Embassy House, opposite Uganda’s Parliament, which houses the embassies of Libya, France, Sudan and West Germany.

The assailant was on the second floor of the nine-story building when he tossed a grenade down the stairs as Matus began to climb them, said Commander David Kaboyo, head of the security team investigating the bombing.

″The grenade fell in front of the Libyan diplomat,″ said Kaboyo. ″The French diplomat, who was coming after him, was injured together with three Ugandans.″

The assailant was presumed to have fled.

Kaboyo said police picked up for questioning a Ugandan man who claimed to be a journalist working for a private firm that planned to launch a new newspaper. Kaboyo would not identify the man.

″He was at the scene by the time of the incident and he had taken some snaps,″ said Kaboyo. ″I wonder what he had come to do at the place, unless he had earlier been tipped off.″

A man claiming to represent the Uganda Federal Army telephoned the British Broadcasting Corp. and the Voice of America in London and said the group was responsible for the attack.

The caller said the group believed the Libyan diplomat ″was head of a terrorist base from which they carried out clandestine movements in East Africa.

″The Libyan embassy is not an embassy, it is a terrorist base being used to plot against Western governments,″ he said.

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The caller also claimed Abu Nidal was in the embassy at the time of the attack. He said Abu Nidal, whose real name is Sabri al-Banna, was carrying a Ugandan passport and operating under the name of Riydh Saleh.

Today’s blast was the third grenade attack this year in Kampala. The first occurred New Year’s Day on the city’s outskirts and injured four Ugandans. Last Wednesday, someone tossed a grenade at Nateete trading center but it exploded without injuring anyone.

Rebel groups fighting President Yoweri Museveni’s 2-year-old government claimed responsibility for several grenade attacks in Kampala last year.