TEL AVIV — Lebanese guerrillas on a hostage-taking mission killed three Israeli soldiers and wounded four in the fiercest clash in south Lebanon since Israel withdrew in 1985, military sources reported today.
They said the Israeli troops were patrolling the rocky slopes of Mt. Hermon, northeast of the Israeli border town of Metulla, when guerrillas from the Lebanese National Resistance Front opened fire at close range on Tuesday night.
"Our force was on a search operation in the south Lebanon security zone when it ran into guerrillas attempting to infiltrate into Israel," a senior officer told armed forces radio.
"It was very rough terrain, with plenty of hiding places. We think both sides were surprised to meet each other there, at such short range."