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Israel fires into Lebanon after border bombing

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News,World,Israel,Middle East,Lebanon

JERUSALEM (AP) — Israel fired tank and artillery shells Friday night into southern Lebanon after a roadside bomb exploded near its soldiers patrolling the border.

Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, a military spokesman, said the explosion damaged a military vehicle near the border. He said no soldiers were hurt in the blast, though three went to hospital for observation to rule out internal injuries.

He said the military immediately responded with tank and artillery fire directed at "Hezbollah positions and other suspicious locations." Soldiers also used smoke-screen munitions to mask their movements, Lerner said.

He said the military is on alert and reinforcing its presence on the border.

Lerner said there is a "Hezbollah connection" to the roadside bomb but would not go into detail. Hezbollah had no immediate comment Friday night.

The Lebanese army said in a statement that a roadside bomb hit the Israeli patrol around 5:45 p.m. local time. In response, "the Israeli enemy forces fired several artillery shells, nine of which fell on Bastara Farms."

Lebanese security officials said at least two artillery shells fired from Israel landed near the village of Halta in southern Lebanon, but caused no casualties.

The Lebanese officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they weren't authorized to speak publicly to journalists.

A Halta resident reached by telephone said at least six or seven shells landed in the hills east of the village.

Israel and Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shiite group committed to Israel's destruction, battled to a stalemate during a monthlong war in the summer of 2006. Both sides have mostly avoided any direct confrontation since a United Nations-brokered cease-fire ended the fighting.

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Associated Press writer Yasmine Saker in Beirut contributed to this report.

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