Second day of rocket attacks in northern Israel

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The Independent Online

Rockets fell on northern Israel this morning for the second day running, and army radio said there were casualties.

A day earlier, Lebanese Shiite Muslim guerrillas had unleashed their fiercest rocket attack in nearly a year on northern Israel, killing an Israeli soldier, wounding 26 other people, and raising fears of more attacks once Israel withdraws its troops from south Lebanon this summer.

The radio report on the latest attack said rockets fell in the border town of Shlomi, in Israel's northern Galilee region. There was no detail on casualties. Israel radio said fires broke out.

In Kiryat Shemona, the biggest border town, residents were ordered back into shelters.

Following Thursday evening's attack, Prime Minister Ehud Barak hinted that Israel's response would be harsh and sustained, indicating that residents along the border might have to spend a long time in bomb shelters.

Hezbollah claimed responsibility for Thursday's rocketing, in response to "continuing aggression on villages" in south Lebanon by Israel and its allies. Two Lebanese women were killed in shelling earlier Thursday in south Lebanon, which Israel said was carried out by its allied militia, the South Lebanese Army.

Barak was in a meeting with U.S. mediator Dennis Ross, in Israel to try to move along negotiations with the Palestinians, when they were interrupted with word of the attack Thursday evening. In Washington, the State Department expressed concern and said it regretted loss of life.

Of the 27 wounded in Thursday's attack, only five were admitted to a hospital. Some had cuts from shrapnel and flying glass, while most complained of shock.

Deputy mayor Yitzhak Kakon called for a stern Israeli response, "not dribs and drabs." He said life in his city has become intolerable.

Thursday's rocket attack was the most serious since June 24, when two civilians were killed. In February, residents were ordered into shelters for two nights amid tensions along the border.

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