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Israel-lebanon Border Heats Up with Volleys from Hezbollah, IDF

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Israel and pro-Iranian guerrillas continued their gun duels in southern Lebanon as Hezbollah terrorists killed a Nepalese U.N. peacekeeper.

The Moslem fundamentalists fired Katyusha rockets at an Israeli army position in the security zone Thursday, following air and artillery bombardments by Israeli forces on their bases. Israeli planes on Wednesday night destroyed a Hezbollah base in the village of Siddikin, south of Tyre. The attack was followed the next day by artillery bombardments of Hezbollah positions from the Israeli-controlled buffer zone in southern Lebanon.

A U.N. spokesman said Hezbollah guerrillas used Katyusha rockets, machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades in their attacks on three Nepalese U.N. posts Thursday.

The spokesman said one Nepalese soldier was killed and another wounded at the village of Sribbine and two others were wounded near the village of Kafrae.

Hezbollah gunners also fired at a French armored vehicle on its way to support the beleaguered Nepalese, reports said.

Israeli troops and armor massed in the buffer zone include 65 medium and heavy long-range guns, according to sources in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon.

Israeli planes flew supersonic passes over Beirut and other towns and villages in Lebanon, with their sonic booms panicking many residents, news reports said.

Meanwhile, the northern Galilee remained quiet but tense. Many Israelis along the border, from Nahariya to Kiryat Shmona, spent a fourth night in underground shelters, despite a continued lull in the Katyusha attacks launched earlier in the week from Lebanon.

In Washington, the chief of the Israeli team negotiating with Lebanon voiced dismay at the rocket attacks.

“You know that during the last few days, over 80 Katyushas fell, more than 40 of them on Israeli territory,” Uri Lubrani told reporters. “Miraculously, there were no casualties, but this is an unprecedented barrage.”

He said that while Israel has “manifested great restraint in responding,” it must be free to “exercise our right to self-defense.”

At the same time, he added, “we shall continue to do whatever we can to make progress” in the peace talks.

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