1987 Attack on L’Historil in Djibouti

In March 1987, a bomb attack occurred in Djibouti, the capital of a small country of the same name located in the Horn of Africa. The attack was aimed at a restaurant frequented by Western guests, mainly French Army personnel. At least 11 people were killed during the attack, including a French Foreign Legion non-commissioned officer.

1987 Attack on L'Historil - Foreign Legion etrangere - Attack - L'Historil - Djibouti - 1987


Djibouti is an important, strategic country situated at the southern entrance to the Red Sea. It controls access to the Suez Canal and the Indian Ocean, home to busy shipping lanes that account for 25 percent of the world’s exports. Djibouti was controlled by France since 1896 until 1977, when Djibouti received its independence. However, French soldiers have still served there since 1977, including legionnaires.

Between the popular bars and restaurants of the French soldiers and Western personnel serving or working in Djibouti was L’Historil, a restaurant situated in the center of the capital, on the Square of 27 June 1977. At 07.15 P.M. (19.15) in the evening, a strong explosion took place in the restaurant. It killed 11 people at the scene – 5 Frenchmen, 3 Djiboutians and 3 West Germans – oceanographers. Tens of people were wounded, including some 15 Frenchmen, 12 Djiboutians, several West Germans and an Italian.

The attack aimed at Western people and French Army personnel was carried out by A. H. Hassan, a terrorist coming from Tunisia who arrived in Djibouti on 8 March.

Between the five French victims were four French soldiers, including a Foreign Legion NCO, Staff Sergeant Durek. He then served with the 13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion (13e DBLE). The 13e DBLE had been stationed in Djibouti since 1962, as a main French Army unit to maintain French presence in the region, with the regiment’s HQ stationed in the capital.

The last homage to the killed French soldiers was paid inside the 13e DBLE’s HQ, Quartier General Monclar, on 23 March 1987. In the presence of General Cazaux, the then Chief of the French Armed Forces based in Djibouti, General Paul Hanrion from France’s Army Staff or Colonel Claude Champeau, the then commander of the 13e DBLE. Other commanding officers from the French units stationed in Djibouti and Djibouti officials were also present.

In 1991, A. H. Hassan was sentenced to death penalty. The Tunisian terrorist was responsible for the attack on L’Historil, in which eventually up to 15 victims perished.

The 1987 attack wasn’t the only attack to happen in Djibouti. Nine years before the Attack on L’Historil, another terrorist attack aimed at French military personnel took place in the capital. In mid-December 1977, 6 people (including 4 French soldiers) were killed by a bomb explosion in a cafe in the center of Djibouti. In late September 1990, an attack on Cafe Paris killed a French child and wounded some 15 Frenchmen. In late May 2014, another cafe in the capital was attacked by a suicide terrorist with grenades. He and a guest were killed, several Frenchmen and Dutch military marines were wounded.

Djibouti also remains the most dangerous place for the Foreign Legion after the end of the Algerian War (1954-62). During the 1976 Djibouti helicopter crash, six legionnaires were killed. Two officers and twenty-seven legionnaires perished in Djibouti six years later, during the 1982 Mont Garbi Accident.

The 13e DBLE left Djibouti in June 2011 to be finally stationed in France in 2016. However, the legionnaires still deploy to the Horn of Africa for four-month missions. In November 2017, two cavalry legionnaires died in Djibouti during a military exercise.

In 2019, Djibouti was home to several foreign military bases – of France, Italy, the United States, Japan, China or Saudi Arabia.

Africa - Djibouti - Map

Africa - Djibouti - Map

Historil - Djibouti - 1987
L’Historil after the attack of March 18, 1987.
Quartier General Monclar - General Hanrion - Attack - Djibouti - 1987
General Paul Hanrion from France’s Army Staff is paying homage to Staff Sergeant Durek from the 13e DBLE inside the regiment’s HQ, Quartier General Monclar.
Attack - Djibouti - 1987 - French Army victims - Foreign Legion victim
The French Army victims of the 1987 attack. Two French Navy marines, a Foreign Legion NCO from 13e DBLE and a French Air Force member, Sergeant Pascal Huillet. He is the only French military victim known by his full name (even the Legion didn’t provide the full name of SCH Durek in the then sources).


Main information & images sources:
Képi blanc magazine


Related articles:
2016 Avalanche accident in the Alps
1982 Mont Garbi accident
1976 Djibouti helicopter crash
1908 Forthassa Disaster


The page was updated on: March 19, 2019


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