Christian Broadcaster Vows to Stay in Lebanon Despite Bombing; Seeks Funds With
Christian Broadcaster Vows to Stay in Lebanon Despite Bombing; Seeks Funds With AM-Lebanon-Attack
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The Voice of Hope will stay in Lebanon despite a terrorist-linked explosion that destroyed its Christian radio studio and killed at least five people, the head of the station’s parent group said Thursday.
Israeli military officials said that three terrorists, a Lebanese guard and a radio employee died in the midnight bombing near Al Khiam.
However, George Otis, president of High Adventure Ministries of Van Nuys, said four or five Palestine Liberation Organization terrorists were killed after they broke through the station’s perimeter fence early Thursday.
High Adventure is the parent group of Voice of Hope, a four-station network that operated out of the destroyed building.
″Four or five PLO terrorists came runing out of the darkness firing Kalashnikovs (Soviet-made automatic weapons),″ Otis said. ″Strapped to their back, like they sometimes do, they had plastic explosives with them. They also had a case of explosives with them and had broken through the chain-link fence.
″Our one single guard picked up his rifle and started firing. He struck one of the explosives packets, and that detonated,″ Otis said in a telephone interview.
″In a way, he was a hero,″ Otis said. ″It was a very brave thing to do.″
He said the guard’s shots touched off a chain reaction, because the terrorists ″were close together and they were all blown up.″
″Our guard was killed and also our man who was broadcasting in the studio, who was on the air, was also killed,″ he said.
He estimated damage at $500,000.
″Fortunately our transmitters are still intact and our antennas,″ he said, ″but we lost our whole studio complex.″
The station resumed broadcasting 10 hours after the blast from the nearby Christian village of Marjayoun.
Otis said he believed the terrorists intended to ″come in and set their timers and leave, so we’re grateful we only lost two of our people.″ He said 11 or 12 people work at the studio during the day, all of them Lebanese.
He identified the guard as Abu Toni, who had a wife and five children. He could identify the broadcaster only as Walid. He said the station had been broadcasting modern Christian hymns at the time of the blast.
The station had been attacked in the past.
″A few years ago we were shelled 31 times. ... During the current year, there were two separate car bomb episodes, but the detonators didn’t work,″ Otis said.
Asked why the Voice of Hope would be singled out, he said: ″Everything is that’s American. Everything is that’s Israeli. Everything is that’s Christian.″
He said Voice of Hope and affiliated charities had helped tens of thousands of Palestinians in Lebanon.
″We have not made enemies. We’re not political at all. Our field is we’re Christians, we’re missionaries and do whatever we can for people who need help,″ Otis said.
″And we’re staying. We’re not leaving,″ he said.