A Libyan passenger jet shot down by Libyan officials over Tripoli airport in December 1992 [LBY34061.E]

According to various media reports, on 22 December 1992 a Libyan Arab Airlines 727 inbound from Benghazi to Tripoli crashed on approach to Tripoli International Airport after colliding with a Libyan airforce Mikoyan MiG-23 that had just taken off from the same airport (Flight International 6 Jan. 1993; ibid. 27 Jan. 1993; Calgary Herald 23 Dec. 1992; AP 23 Dec. 1992). Two reports state that the aircraft went down near the town of Souk al-Sabt, located about 50 km southeast of the capitol (ibid.; Calgary Herald 23 Dec. 1992), while two others indicate it crashed about 9 km northeast of Tripoli airport (The Guardian 23 Dec. 1992; Flight International 6 Jan. 1993). While the crew of the military aircraft parachuted to safety, all 157 passengers and crew on board the airliner were killed (ibid.; Calgary Herald 23 Dec. 1992; The Guardian 23 Dec. 1992; AP 23 Dec. 1992). Most of the victims were Libyan, but seven were from Britain, Malta, Bangladesh, Bulgaria and Korea (ibid.). Two reports stated that it was normal for the international airport to be used for both civilian and military purposes (The Guardian 23 Dec. 1992; Flight International 6 Jan. 1993).

Following the crash the Libyan government blamed the crash on the UN economic embargo banning the sale of sale of aircraft spare parts the Libya (TASS 2 Jan. 1993; The Guardian 23 Dec. 1992; AP 23 Dec. 1992). However, an official of the Libyan Arab Airlines operations office stated that while "it is true we have been hurt by the sanctions, ... we do not send up an aircraft unless it is 100 percent airworthy" (ibid.). The Libyan government also indicated that the crash may have been an act of sabotage by western intelligence agencies, or a revenge action by militants from the Irish Republican Army (IRA), which Libya once supported but had abandoned (Jana 3 Jan. 1993; TASS 2 Jan. 1993; Press Association Newsfile 26 Dec. 1992). That the crash occurred on the fourth anniversary of the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, in which 270 people died, was seen by some as more than mere coincidence (ibid.; Jana 3 Jan. 1993).

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.


The Associated Press (AP). 23 December 1992. PM Cycle. Maurice Guindi. "Mass Funeral Planned for Victims of Libyan Air Crash." (NEXIS)

Calgary Herald. 23 December 1992. Final Edition. "Reported Mid-Air Collision Kills 158." (NEXIS)

Flight International. 27 January 1993. "Airline Safety Review 1992: Libyan Arab Airlines 727-200 22nd Dec." (NEXIS)

_____. 6 January 1993. "Boeing 727 Crashes in Libya." (NEXIS)

The Guardian [London]. 23 December 1992. Alan George. "Libyan Mid-Air Collision Kills 157" (NEXIS)

Jana [Tripoli, in Arabic]. 3 January 1993. "Paper Calls for Sympathetic Review of Policy on IRA, Scottish Nationalists." (BBC Summary 5 Jan. 1993/NEXIS)

Press Association Newsfile. 26 December 1992. "West Accused over Libya Plane Crash." (NEXIS)

TASS. 2 January 1993. Aleksander Yelistratov. "Muammar Al-Gaddafi: Libya May Withdraw from United Nations." (NEXIS)