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France remembers 58 soldiers killed in Drakkar, Beirut

Octobre 1983, rubble of Drakkar building, Beirut.
Octobre 1983, rubble of Drakkar building, Beirut. AFP PHOTO PHILIPPE BOUCHON

France paid homage on Wednesday to the 58 French soldiers killed 30 years ago in the bombing of a building in Beirut.

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French Defence Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian was in the Lebanese capital for a ceremony marking the anniversary.

At 6:15 on the morning of Sunday October 23rd 1983, a bomb hit the Drakkar, a residential building in the centre of Beirut, where 73 French paratroopers were living

Many of them were young volunteers, part of the international force created two years earlier by the UN to help the Lebanese army regain control over its government.

The bomb went off just seconds after a massive explosion at the airport killed 241 American marines

58 French soldiers were killed in the Drakkar – 15 were rescued after spending hours under the rubble.

Dominique Grattepanche was one of them. He says he now suffers from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a result of the experience.

“I heard my friends yelling, and then the voices went silent after a while. I was evacuated to the French embassy and then back to Paris where I was in hospital for 3 weeks. We had all volunteered for an adventure, in service of the Lebanese who needed help from France. We did not imagine we’d be the targets of an attack. I’m doing OK, but other comrades are more worn out than I am”, he said.

The Drakkar explosion and the one at the airport were attributed to Hezbollah

Five months after, France pulled out the last of its troops from the international force.

 

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