Lebanese land mine wounds four Israeli soldiers
Map showing the Blue Line demarcation line between Lebanon and Israel, established by the UN after the Israeli withdrawal from southern Lebanon after its short 1978 invasion called "Operation Litani". (AFP/Thomas Blomberg)
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Four Israeli soldiers were injured in a landmine blast along the northern border with Lebanon, media reports said on Wednesday.
A Lebanese army communique said that the “Israeli patrol violated Lebanon's sovereignty."
"An infantry patrol of the Israeli army penetrated 400 meters inside Lebanon in the Labbouneh area at 00:24 local time," the statement said.
"An explosion took place and the soldiers were wounded, with blood found at the scene. A military committee has opened an investigation in coordination with UNIFIL," the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, it said.
An Israeli military spokesperson said Wednesday that the soldiers were hurt during "overnight activity adjacent to the northern border." It did not say if they were injured in training or in combat, and refused to elaborate further.
Israeli media said that the three soldiers were taken into surgery and one is in the ICU.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said later that “Israel will continue to act responsibly to secure its border.”
Netanyahu during a tour of a military compound in the Negev wished the soldiers swift recovery.
According to the state-run National News Agency, a landmine explosion struck the soldiers' patrol, which crossed into Lebanon's southern border and advanced 150 meters inside the Lebanese border village of Labbouneh.
Media reports said earlier that that two explosions in Israeli territory were heard in Naqoura overnight, followed by sporadic gunshots and illumination bombs by the Israeli army.
However, Lebanese security officials said that seven explosions were heard from the Israeli side of the border.