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Pan Am Flight 103 explodes over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing 270 people and prompting talk of terrorism. The Muslim world gets its first female head of state in Pakistan's Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. And the Palestine Liberation Organization declares independence for the Palestinian state.

  • U.S. cruiser downs Iranian airliner
  • PLO declares Palestinian state
  • Bhutto takes over in Pakistan
  • Pan Am 103 crashes


  • U.S. cruiser downs Iranian airliner -- July 3, 1988

    The American cruiser U.S.S. Vincennes shot down an Iranian commercial airliner, killing 290. The Iranian Airbus had followed airport takeoff instructions, was within the commercial-air corridor and was climbing -- not diving -- toward the Vincennes. Shipboard officials claimed to have mistaken the plane for an F-14 fighter. Initially the military claimed the shooting was justified, but subsequent disclosures suggested otherwise. The U.S. government apologized and offered compensation. A Navy probe blamed the crew, citing combat stress.

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    CNN coverage of the shooting:
    1.6 M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 5 M QuickTime Movie (320x240)


    PLO declares Palestinian state -- November 15, 1988

    Meeting in exile in Algiers, the legislative body of the Palestine Liberation Organization on November 15 declares independence for the Palestinian state. It is a largely symbolic gesture, but is considered historic because it marks the PLO's apparent dropping of its claims to all of Israel in favor of a "two-state solution" that would recognize the Jewish state's right to exist.

    Arafat's announcement:
    1.9M QuickTime Movie (160x120) 3.9M QuickTime Movie (320x240)


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    Pakistan's Bhutto is first woman to lead a Muslim nation -- December 1, 1988

    Benazir Bhutto is named prime minister of Pakistan on December 1, becoming the first woman to lead a Muslim nation. She is the daughter of Zulkifar Ali Bhutto, Pakistan's last democratically elected prime minister, and she succeeds Lt. Gen. Muhammad Zia ul-Haq, who died in a plane crash in August 1988.

    Bhutto announces the win:
    1.3 QuickTime Movie (160x120) 2.5 QuickTime Movie (320x240)


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    Pan Am 103 crashes into Lockerbie -- December 21, 1988

    Pan Am Flight 103, flying from London to New York City, explodes December 21 and crashes into the Scottish village of Lockerbie. All 244 passengers, 15 crew members and 11 people on the ground are killed. The victims included 35 students from Syracuse University who were returning to the United States from an international exchange program. Investigators later determine the crash was triggered by a bomb, and the United States and Britain blame Libyan agents for the deadly attack.


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    The crash scene:
    832K QuickTime Movie (160x120) 1.6M QuickTime Movie (320x240)


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