Suicide bombers with explosives strapped to their belts burst into a U.S.-owned Christian radio station in southern Lebanon today and blew up part of the building, Israeli authorities said. Five people were reported killed in the attack.
In Beirut, the Lebanese Communist Party claimed responsibility for the attack and said two Muslim and two Christian Lebanese had taken part in the assault.
The Israeli military received conflicting information about the attack, which occurred in Israel's "security belt" just north of its border with Lebanon.
Military sources in Jerusalem, citing information from the Israeli-sponsored South Lebanon Army said the dead included three members of a four-man suicide squad, a civilian guard and a technician at the radio station, the Voice of Hope.
The Israeli army imposed a curfew on surrounding villages and said it was searching for the fourth squad member, who escaped.
The statement by Lebanon's tiny pro-Soviet Communist Party implied that the four "martyrs" did not necessarily intend to die but knew there was a strong possibility they would lose their lives. Israel radio reported that a representative of the evangelical Christian group operating the Voice of Hope said that the station, damaged in the attack, was borrowing equipment to get back on the air within hours. The group said it would rebuild the station "as soon as possible."
The station, in the Valley of the Springs between the villages of Marjayoun and Klaiaa, is housed in an old customs building in a fenced-in compound. It is staffed by 8 to 10 Lebanese.
The station, which went on the air six years ago, was owned by High Adventures, a Christian organization headquartered in Van Nuys, Calif., and headed by George Otis of Van Nuys.