Hezbollah claims sinking of Israeli gunboat
AFP – Friday August 11, 2006
Hezbollah said its guerrillas sank an Israeli Super Dvora fast patrol boat off the coast of southern Lebanon, a claim denied by Israel.
"At 2:05 pm (1105 GMT) Friday, while an Israeli Super Dvora warship was off the coast of Mansouri, south of the city of Tyre, and was aggressing our steadfast people and our civilian regions, the men of the Islamic Resistance attacked the ship with suitable weapons," a Hezbollah statement said.
"They scored a direct hit, destroying it, setting off a fire on it and sinking it," said the statement, read on Hezbollah's Al-Manar television.
"Other Israeli boats and zodiacs rushed to rescue its crew, made up of 12 officers and soldiers and who were killed, wounded or drowned," it said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman intially said she knew nothing about a boat being hit.
When pressed, and asked if that were a denial of Hezbollah's claim, she said "yes."
Lebanese television channel LBC International broadcast pictures showing thick clouds of smoke rising above the waters off Tyre, claiming the images showed the aftermath of the ship's sinking.
Friday's claim was Hezbollah's third since the start of Israel's massive military offensive on Lebanon after the Shiite guerrilla militant group killed eight soldiers and captured another two on July 12.
Israel denied Hezbollah's claim on July 31 that a warship had been hit.
On July 14, just two days after Israel launched its offensive, Hezbollah fired a rocket into a warship off Beirut, killing four Israeli sailors.
Naval experts have said the ship's sailors had failed to turn on its interference systems to stop the rockets honing in on the target, believing it was out of range.
Last updated 13/08/2006