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Last Updated: Tuesday, 18 May, 2004, 17:00 GMT 18:00 UK
Lebanon 'smashes Israel spy ring'
Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah
Sheikh Nasrallah was reportedly to be given poisoned sports clothes
Lebanon has reportedly broken a spy ring that was plotting to murder Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of militant group Hezbollah, on behalf of Israel.

Police have arrested a Palestinian woman who is accused of being recruited in Tunisia, the Safir daily reported.

Quoting "informed sources", the paper said the network had been uncovered by Lebanese security forces and Hezbollah.

The group was also planning to launch operations against Palestinian leaders based in Lebanon, Safir says.

Jamal Zaarura, who holds a Tunisian passport but was born in the Nahr al-Bared refugee camp in northern Lebanon, is named as the ringleader.

Safir newspaper says an Egyptian man living in Beirut has also been arrested, along with a lover of Ms Zaarura's who she had unsuccessfully tried to bring into the ring.

She reportedly confessed that Mr Nasrallah was to be targeted with high explosives and poisonous chemicals installed in a tracksuit that would be slipped to his wardrobe.

'Media talk'

Lebanese security sources are quoted elsewhere as saying a plot of some kind has been uncovered, but they give no further details.

However, Reuters news agency quotes Public Prosecutor Adnan Addoum as saying no such case had been referred to the judiciary and the story was just "media talk".

The report comes a day after Israeli military sources said Hezbollah was playing an increasing role in military operations by Palestinian militant groups in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"In the past two months, we have foiled 19 suicide attacks inside Israel, all of them were sponsored by Hezbollah," an intelligence official said, in remarks quoted by AFP news agency.

The latest Israeli army operation in the Rafah refugee camp was launched, according to an interview with Chief of Staff Moshe Ya'alon on Monday, after it transpired that Hezbollah and Iran had smuggled Katyusha rockets into Gaza via Egypt.

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