Three fighters of the Hizbollah movement fighting Israel's occupation of southern Lebanon were killed in a two-hour clash late Wednesday, the Israeli-allied South Lebanon Army (SLA) claimed Thursday.
Fighting broke out when a Hizbollah unit infiltrated the eastern sector of the Israeli-occupied zone of southern Lebanon and clashed with SLA and Israeli forces.
Israeli warplanes intervened, firing four ground-to-air missiles at a gully where Hizbollah fighters had been detected, the SLA added.
If confirmed, the deaths would bring to 13 the number of Hizbollah fighters killed this year in southern Lebanon, which Israel has pledged to evacuate by July after a 22-year occupation.
Earlier Thursday, Israeli shellfire killed an elderly woman and her daughter, the last two residents of a southern Lebanese village abandoned by the rest of its inhabitants, the local mayor said.
The 82-year-old woman and her 40-year-old daughter were killed by heavy-caliber shells that destroyed their home in Qatrani, on the edge of the Israeli-occupied zone of southern Lebanon, mayor Raymond Makhul told AFP.
The women were the only people still living in the tiny village, refusing to go with the rest after Qatrani was left in the so-called "security zone" created by Israel in 1985 after its forces pulled back from Beirut.
Although Israeli troops pulled out in January when attacks by Lebanese Resistance made it untenable, the inhabitants stayed away as it then became the target of Israeli fire to prevent the guerrillas using it.
On Wednesday the Israelis described as "an error" an attack by its warplanes which left 14 civilians wounded in an area north of the occupied zone.
Since January, violence in southern Lebanon has claimed the lives of six civilians and left another 85 wounded, despite commitments negotiated by France and the United States in April 1996 to try to spare civilians - (AFP)
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