A Hizbullah fighter and two militiamen from the South Lebanon Army (SLA) were killed in separate clashes in the south yesterday that shattered a 24-hour lull.
The resistance activist was shot dead when a Hizbullah squad launched an attack on the Toumat Niha position, manned by the SLA, early yesterday morning, Lebanese security officials said.
His body was carried away by retreating fighters.
While Hizbullah officials confirmed that an SLA armed personnel carrier was destroyed during the attack, they refused to comment on the death of the fighter, initially reported by security sources in the eastern sector of the occupied enclave.
Meanwhile, a roadside bomb planted by the resistance group killed two pro-Israeli militiamen travelling on the Jezzine-Mashnaqa road at 9.40am.
The attack fuelled fears of a return of hostilities to the panhandle.
The killing of the militiamen provoked two Israeli air raids on suspected resistance strongholds, said the militia-run Voice of the South radio.
An Israeli warplane fired a rocket at a suspected Hizbullah target in the valley of Karkha, between Sidon and Iqlim al-Touffah, at 12pm, Lebanese security officials said.
At 4.45pm, an Israeli jet fighter fired two rockets on the hills overlooking the village of Loueizeh in the same region.
There was no immediate word on casualties or damage from the attacks, which raised to 73 the number of Israeli air raids on Lebanon this year.
The bodies of SLA recruits Nicolas Haj and Ibrahim Mansour were removed by an SLA ambulance half an hour later, while SLA artillery bombed the area to shield the evacuation process.
In Beirut, Hizbullah claimed responsibility for the attack, which raised the number of SLA militiamen killed in the south to 18 so far this year.
Over the same period, 39 Israeli soldiers, 52 Hizbullah fighters and 35 Lebanese civilians have also been killed.
In Jerusalem, an Israeli military spokesman said: “Israeli aircraft attacked Hizbullah terrorist positions west of the Jezzine enclave in south Lebanon near the Awali river. The pilots reported accurate hits and all planes returned safely to base.
“The attack came in the wake of a terrorist bomb explosion in the Jezzine enclave in which two soldiers of (SLA commander) Gen Antoine Lahd were killed,” the spokesman added.