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Body Of American Flown Home

January 2, 1986

ROME (AP) _ The body of one of five Americans killed in the bloody airport attack here was flown home Wednesday, and Libya disassociated itself from an earlier statement praising that attack and a nearly simultaneous one in Vienna.

The grenade and automatic rifle attacks last Friday near airport check-in counters for Israel’s El Al Airline killed a total of 18 people in Rome and Vienna, including four terrorists and the five Americans. At least 120 others were injured.

The body of John Buonocore, 20, who died in the Rome massacre, was flown to New York. Buonocore was an exchange student from Wilmington, Del.

Niccolo Goretti, charge d’affairs for Italy’s embassy in the Libyan capital of Tripoli, said the Libyan Foreign Ministry called him in on Tuesday to disassociate the government from a statement by the government-run news agency, JANA.

″They told me that what JANA reported does not correspond with the view of Libya, and does not reflect the opinion of the Libyan government,″ Goretti told the Rome office of The Associated Press by telephone.

He said the government told him the statement was the view of the unidentified journalist only.

The JANA statement issued Sunday described the attacks as ″heroic actions″ carried out by the ″sons of Palestinian martyrs of the Sabra and Chatilla″ refugee camps in Lebanon.

Hundreds of people were killed by the Israeli-backed Christian Phalangist militia at the west Beirut refugee camps in September 1982.

The lone surviving terrorist in Rome and the two surviving attackers in Vienna identified themselves as Palestinian fighters, authorities said.

Goretti said the Foreign Ministry also denied any responsibility in the attacks.

Libyan leader Col. Moammar Khadafy said at a Tripoli news conference Wednesday that ″legitimate Palestinian action″ should not be confused with terrorist actions, JANA said Wednesday.

According to a JANA report received by telephone in Rome, Khadafy called the Palestinian cause ″one of the most sacred on this earth″ because Palestinians have been ″deprived of their own land by terrorism and force.″

Khadafy also warned that any attacks on Libya would cause it to ″declare war in the Mediterranean...and in all the Middle East,″ according to France’s Antenne Deux television network, which carried the news conference.

Israeli Prime Minister Shimon Peres called Wednesday for international sanctions against Libya, saying that without them ″the war against terror will never succeed.″ He did not directly accuse Libya of the airport attacks but Israeli and U.S. officials have said Libya is the headquarters for the Abu Nidal Palestinian faction blamed for the attacks.

The Rome daily Il Tempo reported Tuesday that the surviving terrorist in the Rome attack told investigators Libya had provided support for the suicide mission and that there were 300 terrorists ready for similar missions.

A U.S. Embassy spokesman said he did not know when the bodies of other Americans killed in the Rome attack would follow Buonocore’s back to the United States.

One of the dead Americans - 11-year-old Natasha Simpson, the youngest maassacre victim - was buried Monday in Rome, where she was born and resided at the time of her death.

Four Americans wounded in the attack remained hospitalized Wednesday. One of them, Elizabeth Root of Columbus, Ohio, was in serious condition after surgery.

The others were all in good condition. They are: Michael Simpson, age 9, Natasha’s brother; Miriam Kimell, 80, of Rancho Santa Fe, Calif., and Michael Sweis, 58, of Oak Lawn, Ill.

Sweis’ four children, also injured in the attack, flew home Tuesday, as did Kathleen S. Goff, 78, of Newport Beach, Calif.

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