Hizbollah fighters killed by Israelis

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The Independent Online

Israeli troops have killed three Hizbollah fighters in southern Lebanon, one week after the ceasefire was implemented.

Four Israeli soldiers were also wounded in the exchanges, according to the Al Arabiya news channel.

An Israeli army official confirmed the clash but could not state how many Hizbollah fighters were killed. "A force identified armed gunmen coming toward them in a threatening way. The soldiers fired at them and identified three hits," said an Israeli army spokesman.

Israel has defended its military actions in southern Lebanon since the truce, claiming it was preventing Hizbollah from rearming. The Israeli army also said it was maintaining its positions in the area ahead of a planned pull-out when more peace-keeping forces arrive.

Hizbollah yesterday denied that any of its fighters had been killed and said it would continue to adhere to a ceasefire, which requires the Lebanese army to spread to the south to replace Hizbollah fighters.

Hizbollah's deputy leader, Sheikh Naim Kassem, said the group would not stand down until the Lebanese army was ready to defend the country.

In Gaza, Israeli aircraft destroyed the homes of two Islamic Jihad members yesterday, wounding two bystanders. The owner of one of the homes was Hashem Asliya, 45, who said he had been warnedbefore the air strike to leave the house.

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