The body of Peter Kilburn, an American librarian abducted in Lebanon more than a year ago and killed last week in apparent retaliation for the U.S. raid on Libya, was returned to the United States yesterday aboard a military plane.
The State Department said there was no ceremony and reporters were barred from the landing at Andrews Air Force Base here at the request of Kilburn's family.
Kilburn, 61, was chief librarian at the American University of Beirut when he was kidnaped Dec. 3, 1984, in Moslem West Beirut. He was found shot to death last Thursday near a mountain lane east of the city, along with two British teachers who had been abducted on a Beirut street less than a month ago.
A group called the Arab (Fedayeen) Commando Cells said it killed all three men in retaliation for the U.S. attack last Tuesday on Libya and Britain's decision to let the attack be launched from British soil.
After identification in Lebanon, Kilburn's body was taken to the Rhein-Main Air Base outside Frankfurt, West Germany. The remains arrived in Washington shortly before noon yesterday, and are expected to undergo more forensic tests before being flown to the West Coast this week. Kilburn was a native of the San Francisco Bay area, where his family still lives.
His death leaves at least four Americans hostage in Lebanon. They are Thomas Sutherland, agriculture dean at the American University of Beirut; David Jacobsen, university hospital director; the Rev. Lawrence M. Jenco, Catholic Relief Services director, and Terry A. Anderson, Associated Press bureau chief in Beirut.
A pro-Iran group said last year it had slain a sixth American hostage, U.S. Embassy political officer William Buckley, but his body has never been found.