BUENOS AIRES (Apr. 30)
Reports that a squad of Hezbollah suicide bombers were found on Paraguay’s border with Argentina have been denied by authorities of both countries.
Despite the denials, the so-called “triangle area” in northeastern Argentina, on the border with Brazil and Paraguay, was placed on alert after intelligence reports claimed that 20 suicide bombers had arrived in Paraguay from the Middle East.
Jose Werner Arnhardt, chief of police in the northeastern Argentine province of Misiones, said the terrorists had been detected last week by local and Brazilian intelligence personnel in the Paraguayan city of Ciudad del Este, home to a large Arab community and a suspected haven for fundamentalist activists.
Arnhardt said the terrorists were planning to carry out attacks against Jewish and Israeli targets in Argentina to avenge Israel’s 16-day cross-border fighting with Hezbollah gunmen in Lebanon.
Argentine and Paraguayan federal authorities, however, flatly denied Arnhardt’s reports.
Carlos Vladimiro Corach, the Argentine interior minister, told reporters that “there is no solid information on terrorists operating in that area, let alone of 20 of them arriving in there recently.”
The minister, however, conceded that the border area was on alert “just in case.”
According to some local news reports Monday, the Paraguayan police have arrested 10 Arabs in possession of weapons.
But no details were available regarding where the arrests took place or the identities of those arrested.
Paraguayan authorities would neither confirm nor deny the reports.