SIDON, Lebanon — Israeli warplanes Wednesday bombed Palestinian guerrilla bases in southern Lebanon, killing at least five people and wounding six. The attack was the first Israeli air strike in Lebanon this year.
According to Lebanese police sources, two aircraft carried out the bombing in two waves 10 minutes apart on the outskirts of the Ein el Hilwa Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon. Four other Israeli planes provided air cover, the sources said.
The targets included a one-story building manned by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command and a two-story building housing members of a Fatah faction that split from Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat.
The third target was a building occupied by the Palestine Liberation Front. Members of that radical Palestinian group were responsible for the hijacking of the Achille Lauro cruise liner last October. An American passenger was murdered in that incident.
Two of the buildings, hidden in orange and banana groves, were report badly damaged. The third structure was flattened.
Guerrilla anti-aircraft guns opened up on the U.S.-built F-16 jets as they began their dive toward the bases, but none apparently were hit, witnesses said.
Prime Minister Shimon Peres of Israel, who was in West Berlin, said the air raid would not affect the plan for Mideast peace negotiations he is promoting on his European tour.
"It won't have any impact because the peace process does not contradict fighting terror and stopping terrorism," he declared, adding, "I understand the bombing worked out well and achieved its aim."
The Israeli air strike was the first since attacks by Palestinian gunmen on the ticket counters of Israel's El Al airline at airports in Rome and Vienna on Dec. 27. Twenty people-including five Americans--were killed in those raids.
The breakaway PLO faction led by Abu Nidal, the Revolutionary Council of Fatah, has been linked to the attacks. There was no official Israeli indication that Wednesday's raid was in retaliation for those attacks.
The last Israeli raid in Lebanon came Oct. 27. Israeli planes bombed 13 Palestinian bases in central and east Lebanon last year.