One of the controversial actions n North African crisis occurred on Saturday, February 8th, when French aircraft crossed the border from Algiers into Tunis and bombed the Tunisian village of Sakiet Sidi Youssef.
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Background: One of the controversial actions n North African crisis occurred on Saturday, February 8th, when French aircraft crossed the border from Algiers into Tunis and bombed the Tunisian village of Sakiet Sidi Youssef.
In an all-out attack on the village, the French aircraft killed 75 people-including a number of children- and wounded a further 83.
Since the incident occurred, the Tunisian Government has lodged a protest with the United Nations in New York: the Tunisian Ambassador in Paris, M.Masmoudi, has been recalled; French troops in Tunisia are confined to their barracks and all communications with France are being severed; a one-day general strike has been called in Tunisia; foreign newspaper correspondents have been invited to inspect the damage; the French claim that nine-tenths of the village is still intact.
The official French explanation of the bombing was that French observation planes had been fired upon three times from the village which was described as "a camp for Algerian rebels".
The Defence Minister, M.Chabas Delmas, described it as "crushing a nest of rebels and assasins comfortably installed on the territory of a chief of state who pretends he can do nothing about it". He later called the bombing "an act of legitimate defence".
An International Red Cross team was present when the bombing occurred and one member, a Swede, M.Goesta Heuman, is reported at stating that the bombing lasted for an hour. He thought at first that the target must be a rebel encampment outside the village but when he re-entered Sakiet he was appalled at the destruction. "I shall never be able to forget the frightful sights I saw - women and children dead and dying in the street".
Some of the Red Cross lorries were destroyed by the bombs despite the large red crosses painted on the sides and on the roof.
A B.C.I.N.A. cameraman was among the neutral delegates invited to the scene of the bombing soon afterwards and recorded these scenes of the destruction and the casualties.