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Libya Claims U.S. Jetfighters Intercept Bulgarian Plane

April 18, 1986

TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) _ Libya’s official news agency said Thursday that U.S. fighter jets intercepted a Bulgarian plane over the Mediterranean Sea on its way to Libya.

In Washington, Cmdr. Robert Prucha said the Pentagon had no reports of American jets intercepting a commercial airliner.

The brief dispatch by the JANA news agency Thursday evening said: ″Flight 161 of Bulgar Air from Sofia to Tripoli was intercepted this morning over a point in east Mediterranean by American fighter jets present in the Mediterranean Sea.″

The rest of the dispatch said: ″This is an American act of piracy in the Mediterranean basin, which poses a danger on navigation across the Mediterranean, carried out by a superpower which claims responsibility for preserving peace.″

Prucha said Navy jets are routinely sent out to identify any airplane that is approaching a U.S. aircraft carrier if the plane cannot be identified through radio transmissions.

″We cannot say definitely that some U.S. jets did not fly near this plane to identify it, but we have no reports of any such action,″ Prucha added.

Bulgaria’s state-run airline is called Balkan Airlines and it was not immediately clear if JANA’s dispatch was referring to it when it mentioned ″Bulgar Air.″

Because of the late hour in Europe when JANA made its report, no comment was immediately available from the Bulgarian government, and there was no report by its state-run news agency.

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