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Communist Terror Bombing in Saigon Kills Three Americans

Feb. 16, 1964 - Three Americans were killed and more than 50, including women and children, were injured tonight in the Communist terror-bombing of a packed U.S. armed forces theater in Saigon. The quick thinking of U.S. guards who saw the bomb before it exploded and raced into the theater yelling “Hit the deck” averted a much heavier toll. The dead included a Marine Corps captain who had rushed in to warn the audience and a military policeman who was shot to death at his post outside. The third body could not be identified immediately. Three of the injured were in critical condition.

One report said the bombing at the Kinh Do movie theater was carried out by a team of Communist terrorists — at least two men and perhaps a woman. A wounded rickshaw driver was being held as a prime suspect.

About 500 American servicemen and their families were watching a murder film, “The List of Adrian Messenger,” when a man approached a U.S. military policeman posted outside. Holding a pistol with both hands, he shot the guard dead through the neck. An accomplice then shoved a large package of explosives through a gap in the steel doors protecting the theater lobby. Military personnel saw the bomb and raced into the auditorium shouting a warning. “But for their warning, a lot more people would have been killed,” a witness said. The blast ripped out the steel doors and smashed the inner doors. One report said that the military policeman shot before the bombing killed his assailant before he succumbed. After the attack, American officials speculated that the evacuation of dependents of U.S. servicemen in South Vietnam might now be ordered, but they admitted that this would have a bad psychological effect on the Americans now stationed there.


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