A young woman rammed a car packed with explosives into a checkpoint of the Israeli-backed militia in southern Lebanon on Wednesday, and soldiers in Beirut foiled an attempt by gunmen to kidnap Portugal’s ambassador.
Israel radio said the 18-year-old car bomber was killed and two militia guards were wounded in the suicide attack. But the Syrian National Social Party, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said in Beirut that 18 South Lebanon Army members and three Israeli officers were killed.
The pro-Syrian Lebanese party also said that 12 militiamen were injured in the blast in the Israeli-created border security belt--a strip 3 to 11 miles wide patrolled by the Israeli-backed South Lebanon Army to prevent guerrilla attacks on northern Israel.
Suicide Driver Identified
The Lebanese party identified the suicide driver as Mariam Kheiredine, a party member from eastern Lebanon. The group said she carried out the bombing with 660 pounds of explosives packed into a Toyota sedan. She appeared on Beirut television in a pre-recorded interview, praising Syria and the Soviet Union and condemning the United States and Israel.
Portuguese Ambassador Luis Gonzaga Ferreira, 57, said the Lebanese army’s mostly Shia 6th Brigade foiled an attempt Wednesday to abduct him and his wife, Maria.
The Lebanese soldiers, manning a checkpoint in Beirut, ran to rescue him when they saw gunmen trying to drag him out of his car. The gunmen fled down a maze of alleyways. It was not known to which militia they belonged.
The ambassador and his wife, Maria, were not injured.
‘Happened Very Quickly’
“It all happened very quickly and, thank God, was thwarted very quickly, too,” Ferreira said in a telephone interview.
“They pried the rear door open and tried to drag me out,” he said. “My Lebanese driver, an ex-sergeant in the army, was trying to negotiate with the assailants when troops of the army’s 6th Brigade came running to my rescue.”