Violence Rages in South Lebanon; At Least 3 Killed
MARJAYOUN, Lebanon (AP) _ Israeli troops and allied militiamen clashed with Iranian-backed guerrillas Saturday in the latest spate of violence across south Lebanon.
The battles reportedly killed Shiite Muslim attackers and one militiaman, and two Israeli soldiers were wounded.
Hezbollah, or Party of God, Iran’s main ally in Lebanon, said its guerrillas attacked an Israeli army patrol in the Jezzine area with machine- gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades. Jezzine is at the tip of a corridor leading to Israel’s self-designated ″security zone.″
A communique said ″the entire enemy patrol was wiped out,″ but did not give specific figures.
The Voice of the South radio station of the Israeli-allied South Lebanon Army said one of its militiamen was killed.
In Jerusalem, the army said one militiamen and two guerrillas were killed and two Israeli soldiers were wounded in the firefight.
The Hezbollah communique said heavy fighting raged in the area after the Israelis called in reinforcements of tanks and helicopter gunships. The report could not be independently confirmed.
The security sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said guerrillas later fired a volley of seven Soviet-designed Katyusha rockets that exploded around the village of Dibil in the security zone’s western sector, about three miles north of Israel’s border.
There was no immediate word of casualties or damage from the barrage. Israel usually retaliates forcefully to Katyusha attacks.
The attacks came two days after Hezbollah guerrillas detonated a radio- operated roadside bomb next to an SLA patrol in the zone. Two SLA militiamen were killed and a third wounded.
Twenty people have been killed and 70 wounded in this year’s violence in south Lebanon. Israel has launched 19 Israeli air raids and one naval attack.
Israel carved out the 440-square-mile ″security zone″ in south Lebanon in 1985 to shield its northern flank against cross-border guerrilla attacks.
Hezbollah has vowed to keep up its guerrilla war until Israel abandons the zone, which is policed by 3,000 SLA militiamen backed by 1,500 Israeli soldiers.
Also in south Lebanon Saturday, police said assailants hurled a grenade at a commander of PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat’s mainstream Fatah guerrilla faction and critically wounded him.
The attack on Col. Fathi Zeidan, 43, occurred in the refugee camp of Mieh Mieh in the port of Sidon.
Fatah’s intelligence chief in the camp, Col. Ali Farhoud, accused terrorist mastermind Abu Nidal’s breakaway Fatah-Revolutionary Council faction of engineering the assassination attempt in an ongoing war between the two groups.
On Thursday, gunman killed Fatah Col. Younis Awwad, 42, in Beirut.