BEIRUT — Israeli troops, conducting raids on Shia Muslim villages in southern Lebanon today that left 20 Shias dead, also fired on a CBS News team, killing two journalists and wounding their driver, network officials said.
Walid Harati, CBS bureau manager in Beirut, said the two were killed in the village of Kfar Melki, one of nine Shia Muslim villages raided by Israeli army forces in an all-day, anti-guerrilla sweep.
Harati said cameraman Tafik Ghazawi and soundman Bahije Metni, Lebanese nationals working as free-lancers for the network, took a "direct shell hit" in heavy tank fire in Kfar Melki.
Their driver, Ayad Hassan Harake, suffered a leg injury and was being taken to Beirut after surgery in Sidon.
Covering Army Advance
CBS spokeswoman Marsha Stein in New York said the news crew was covering the Israeli army's advance today across its front lines and raids of Shia Muslim villages near Sidon.
"They stopped to shoot pictures of a car that had been fired upon and damaged by Israeli guns. . . . As they were taping, witnesses said, the Israelis opened up on the CBS team," Stein said.
"It was terrible. There was complete panic. Journalists, families and militiamen were fleeing," a British reporter who was in the area at the time said.
An Israeli military spokesman confirmed that Israeli paratroopers backed by tanks and helicopter gunships stormed two villages, Humin Al Tahta and Jbaa, and killed 20 "terrorists."
The Lebanese army and Beirut radio said nine villages were attacked, seven of them in territory relinquished Feb. 16 in the first phase of Israel's three-stage withdrawal from southern Lebanon.
20 Deaths Claimed
"Twenty terrorists were killed, most of them armed, during searches for and arrests of terrorists in the villages of Humin Al Tahta and Jbaa," the Israeli army spokesman said.
"A large amount of arms were seized, including rocket-propelled grenade launchers, mortars, demolition blocks and other items," the spokesman said.
The action was Israel's largest since its withdrawal from the region around Sidon on Feb. 16 and the bloodiest since Israeli soldiers killed 32 Shia guerrillas in Zrariyeh on March 11, a day after 12 Israeli soldiers were killed by a suicide car bomb near the Israeli border.
Humin Al Tahta is 10 miles east of the port of Tyre and just inside the area evacuated by Israeli troops Feb. 16. Jbaa is in the area still occupied by Israeli troops.
Timur Goksel, spokesman for the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon, said 100 men were rounded up and questioned by Israeli troops in Srifa, about 10 miles east of Tyre. The village has been the scene of recent attacks on Israeli troops.