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Israeli Air Raid in Lebanon Kills 4 Arabs

June 15, 1989|From Times Wire Services

BSHAMOUN, Lebanon — Israeli warplanes Wednesday raided Palestinian fortifications in this village southeast of Beirut, killing four Arab guerrillas and wounding nine others, police said.

The attacking aircraft fired 10 rockets during two passes at Palestinian bases, including an air raid shelter in the woods just outside Bshamoun, a hilltop village, "reducing it to ashes," a police spokesman said.

He said the bases were used by the Syrian-backed Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine as well as the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, both factions of the Palestine Liberation Organization. However, the DFLP denied that any of its bases were attacked.

The Israeli air strike sent palls of black smoke rising over Bshamoun, which is under the control of the Progressive Socialist Party, led by Druze military chieftain Walid Jumblatt. Syrian troops, part of a 40,000-strong force in Lebanon, also have positions there.

In Damascus, a spokesman for the Palestine Liberation Front said that only three of its guerrillas were killed during the raid, and it identified one of them as Maj. Khaled Mohammed Abdul-Karim, also known as Abu Mohammed.

The group's headquarters was destroyed, the spokesman added.

Security sources in Lebanon said seven guerrillas were wounded during attacks on two other nearby PLF bases.

Witnesses said Palestinian anti-aircraft batteries opened fire as the warplanes appeared over the targeted area. But the Israeli military command said all its planes returned safely.

In a statement released in Jerusalem, the military command also said the air raid, the seventh in Lebanon this year, was in retaliation for a rocket attack May 28 that killed an 8-month-old child in the village of Metulla in north Israel.

The command described the targets as "terrorist bases."

At the same time, police in Lebanon also reported three people killed in artillery exchanges between Syrian-backed forces and Christian militia forces in and around Beirut.

Syria has soldiers in Lebanon under a peacekeeping mandate issued by the Arab League in 1976, the year after Lebanon's sectarian civil war began.

Wednesday's shelling raised the casualties in 13 weeks of artillery duels to an estimated 370 killed and 1,441 wounded. The shooting began March 8 between Christian army units led by Maj. Gen. Michel Aoun and a Muslim alliance of Syrian soldiers and Druze militiamen.

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