Saturday, July 15, 2006

Israeli Warship Attacked by Unmanned Hezbollah Aircraft; Four Sailors Missing

An unmanned Hezbollah aircraft rigged with explosives rammed into an Israeli Saar 5 Navy Gunship late Friday, leaving four sailors missing and causing heavy damage and a fire, Israeli military officials said. The army said a search was under way for the seamen. The statement confirmed earlier news reports that the four were missing. The attack by the remote-controlled drone indicated that Hezbollah has added a new weapon to the arsenal of rockets and mortars it has used against Israeli troops. The army said a missile ship carrying several dozen sailors suffered severe damage and was set on fire. Several hours after the attack, the fire was put out and the ship was being towed back to Israel, officials said. The military officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak to the media.
Israeli Saar 5 Navy Gunship
In an official statement, the army spokesman's office would say only that the cause of the attack was still under investigation. Hezbollah has never before used a remote-controlled unmanned aircraft to attack Israel. But in a signal of its growing capabilities, the guerrilla group has twice managed to fly spy drones over northern Israel in recent years. The drones caused great concern in Israel because they evaded the country's air defenses. Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV had reported earlier Friday that guerrillas attacked an Israeli warship that had been firing missiles into south Beirut. ``Now in the middle of the sea, facing Beirut, the Israeli warship that has attacked the infrastructure, people's homes and civilians look at it burning,'' Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah said. The prerecorded audiotape was aired shortly after Israeli missiles struck Hezbollah headquarters and Nasrallah's house in south Beirut. The station showed a video purportedly showing an Israeli warship hit by Hezbollah. The video aired a few seconds of nighttime pictures of an object flying over a city and falling in the distance, where it exploded. Al-Manar said this depicted the attack on the Israeli warship off the coast of Lebanon. The footage was unclear and it could not be seen what the object hit.

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