Fighting Escalates in Lebanon Affecting Israeli, U.N. Troops

Clashes between Israeli and Hezbollah forces in southern Lebanon have continued to escalate, with an Israeli soldier being slightly wounded Monday while on patrol in the border security zone.

In an unrelated incident Tuesday, five United Nations soldiers from Fiji narrowly escaped injury when their armored vehicle was blown up by a roadside bomb along the coastal road of Lebanon south of Tyre, outside the security zone.

The vehicle was badly damaged, but the soldiers of the international peacekeeping force escaped without a scratch.

U.N. spokesman Timor Goksel said the force had lodged an official complaint with the Lebanese government. But sources in Lebanon suggested that the incident might have been “private revenge” by local residents who have recently complained of being hassled by U.N. troops at roadblocks in the area.

In the attack by Hezbollah, an Israeli convoy on routine patrol near Talousa village in the central sector of the security zone came under attack from several missiles and returned fire.

A Hezbollah statement claimed responsibility, saying its gunmen had attacked an armored patrol and had hit a Merkava tank.

Israeli and allied South Lebanon Army gunners later shelled suspected terrorist targets north of the zone with mortar and tank rounds. Hezbollah fired more missiles later in retaliation, without causing any injuries or damage.

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