Hezbollah, the Islamic Party of God, has issued a statement saying that the group is holding two Israeli soldiers, but that the abduction of Sheikh Abdul Karim Obeid had made their release impossible.
The statement, the first of its kind, was released at midnight Wednesday via Arab-owned Radio Monte Carlo.
The statement did not address the question of the release of hostages other than Israelis.
The Israeli newspaper Ma’ariv on Thursday quoted Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir as telling President Bush in a telephone conversation Wednesday evening that the American hostages would be included in any prisoner exchange deal.
Meanwhile, commentators here in Israel have pointed out that Hezbollah’s coupling of Wednesday’s suicide truck-bomb attack on an Israel Defense Force convoy in southern Lebanon with the capture of Obeid did not necessarily mean the two events were directly linked.
On Wednesday, a truck packed with explosives blew up in the path of a convoy carrying both IDF and South Lebanon Army soldiers.
Five IDF soldiers and an SLA militiaman were wounded while the two people driving the truck were killed.
It would have been too difficult, analysts say, for the attack to have been planned and executed only after the abduction of Obeid, as preparation for such an attack takes considerable time.
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