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THE WORLD

Clashes Resume at Israel-Lebanon Border

April 27, 2002|From Associated Press

BEIRUT — After a lull of nearly two weeks, Hezbollah guerrillas attacked Israeli positions in a disputed enclave on Lebanon's southern border Friday, wounding three Israeli soldiers and triggering Israeli retaliation.

The guerrillas fired rockets and machine guns at Israeli hilltop posts in the Shabaa Farms area, Lebanese security officials said on condition of anonymity.

They said Israeli artillery gunners shelled suspected guerrilla hide-outs on the outskirts of the villages of Kfar Chouba and Halta, about a mile from Shabaa Farms.

In a statement issued in Beirut, Hezbollah said its guerrillas scored "direct hits" in the afternoon attack. In Jerusalem, the Israeli army confirmed the attack, saying three soldiers suffered light to moderate wounds and a fourth was "lightly injured due to smoke inhalation."

The exchange broke a calm that had prevailed on the border since April 13. There were almost daily shootouts across the frontier after the start of Israel's military offensive in the West Bank on March 29, but they ceased after visits to Lebanon and Syria by the foreign minister of Iran, Kamal Kharrazi, and Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.

Israel captured the Shabaa Farms area when its forces swept across Syria's Golan Heights in the 1967 Middle East War, and it left troops there when it withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000.

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