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Rebels Wound 3 Israeli Soldiers

November 24, 1998

MARJAYOUN, Lebanon (AP) _ Lebanese guerrillas fired rockets and mortars at outposts in Israeli-occupied southern Lebanon Monday, wounding three Israeli soldiers and two allied militiamen.

The attacks provoked Israeli air and artillery retaliation that wounded three Lebanese civilians, including a 7-year-old boy, Lebanese security officials said.

In Israel, the army said three of its soldiers were wounded, two seriously, in five separate attacks on Israeli and militia positions.

The Israeli army also said two allied militiamen were lightly wounded in the attacks.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah guerrillas claimed responsibility for the afternoon attacks in an area a few miles north of Marjayoun, the main town in the enclave Israel has occupied since 1985.

The exchanges Monday come at a time of heightened tension in south Lebanon. Three Israeli soldiers were killed and four others wounded last Monday in a Hezbollah roadside bombing. The casualties were the highest Israeli losses in more than a year.

Hezbollah, or the Party of God, is fighting to drive some 1,500 Israeli troops and 2,500 allied militiamen from the enclave. Israel maintains the occupation is necessary to protect its northern towns from cross-border guerrilla raids.

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