Israeli Warplanes Raid Lebanon
MARJAYOUN, Lebanon (AP) _ Israeli warplanes struck southern Lebanon on Monday after a roadside bomb killed a top official of the pro-Israeli militia and seriously wounded his driver, Lebanese security officials said.
The Iranian-backed Hezbollah group claimed responsibility for the bombing.
The roadside attack prompted large-scale Israeli air and ground retaliation. Security officials said Israeli warplanes raided suspected guerrilla targets, dropping at least 15 air-to-surface missiles over villages in Iqlim al-Tuffah, a guerrilla stronghold opposite an Israeli-occupied enclave in southern Lebanon.
There was no immediate word on casualties from the afternoon airstrikes. Hezbollah guerrillas maintain bases in the area that they use as launching pads for attacks against Israeli troops and their Lebanese allies.
Israeli ground troops also shelled valleys in the Tuffah province, killing a Hezbollah guerrilla and igniting a fire.
An Israeli army spokesman in Jerusalem said four militiamen of the Israeli-allied South Lebanon Army were wounded in the clash. The spokesman and Lebanese security officials said guerrilla artillery also injured a Lebanese woman.
The bomb Monday morning exploded as a car carrying Fawzi al-Saghir, a local SLA intelligence chief, and another SLA official was passing the militia’s outpost at Beit Yahoun, nine miles north of the border, the Lebanese officials said.
Saghir was killed instantly and his driver was seriously wounded, the officials said. The second official was also wounded, they said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
In Jerusalem, an Israeli military statement said the bombing killed one SLA militiaman. Two other militiamen and a Lebanese civilian were wounded, the military said. Two of the injured were flown to Israel for treatment.
The statement said Israel views Hezbollah’s harming of civilians as a ``flagrant″ violation of a 1996 U.S.-brokered agreement prohibiting attacks on civilians.
Hezbollah, or the Party of God, is fighting to oust 1,500 Israeli soldiers and the 2,500 SLA militiamen from the occupied zone. Israel set up the zone in 1985 to shield its northern town from cross-border guerrilla attacks.
Monday’s bombing came less than a week after two SLA militiamen were killed in a Hezbollah attack.