A car bomb exploded prematurely at a roadblock in Israel’s security zone in southern Lebanon today. Israeli military sources and Christian radio stations said the blast killed only the driver, but a Muslim-controlled radio station said there were “many casualties that could not be quickly counted.”
The Muslim station, Beirut’s Voice of the Nation radio, did not cite the source of its report, and the differences could not be reconciled immediately.
The Lebanese Baath Party, which is loyal to President Hafez Assad of Syria, claimed responsibility for the blast.
The Voice of Lebanon Christian radio said the car apparently exploded prematurely at the gate of the South Lebanon Army militia base at Kfar Houne near Jezzine, the largest Christian town in southern Lebanon. The South Lebanon Army militia is supported by Israel.
The explosion occurred about 40 yards from a checkpoint usually manned by about 40 militiamen, according to the Voice of Lebanon.
Israeli military sources said the driver of the blue Mercedes evidently arrived at the roadblock 15 miles north of the Israeli border during the night and was waiting for the road to open at dawn.
They said the car, containing explosives estimated to weigh more than 200 pounds, detonated at 5 a.m., before any of the militia guards had arrived at the roadblock.