Official Beirut radio reported today that a driver detonated a car packed with explosives in a suicide attack on Israeli troops, killing or wounding more than 100 soldiers, but Israel immediately denied it.
The Beirut radio report, which was also carried by several other radio stations in Lebanon, said the attack was in apparent retaliation for the killing of students in a Muslim orphanage in the Israeli-occupied southern Lebanese town of Tyre.
In Tel Aviv, Israeli army spokesman Zev Chafets issued an "official denial" saying the attack "never happened." Asked if the report of the attack on Israeli troops was a hoax, Chafets said it was "a lie."
U.N. peacekeeping forces in southern Lebanon had no immediate comment.
Another Israeli spokesman said Israeli forces stormed the village of Maarakeh this morning and arrested "a number of people suspected of planning and perpetrating attacks against (Israeli Defense Force) forces."
'Several People' Arrested
A U.N. spokesman in southern Lebanon confirmed the Israeli storming of Maarakeh and said while there was no major confrontation, "several people" were arrested after identity checks.
State-owned Beirut radio and journalists in southern Lebanon agreed that there was a car-bomb attack on Israelis in Tyre.
Both Beirut radio and Lebanon's state-owned National News Agency said the car bombing was in apparent retaliation for the storming by Israeli troops Tuesday of a Shia Muslim orphanage on the outskirts of Tyre, 46 miles south of Beirut.
The two reports also agreed that "more than 25 students were killed or wounded in the Israeli onslaught and aggression against the orphanage," the Jabal Amel Institute. Beirut radio said Israeli helicopter gunships attacked the school shortly before midnight.
Hospital sources in south Lebanon, however, said they had received only 11 people injured--four with gunshot wounds.
The Beirut radio report on the suicide attack said, "The Israeli troops and armored cars had gathered outside the Jabal Amel orphanage on the outskirts of Tyre after a roadside bomb explosion when the suicide driver crashed into the concentration and blew up his vehicle.
"Initial reports say that more than 100 Israeli soldiers were killed or wounded in the suicide car bomb attack," the broadcast said.