Hezbollah captures two Israeli soldiers

Indo-Asian News Service

Beirut, July 12, 2006


The Lebanese Shiite Hezbollah movement announced on Wednesday that its guerrillas have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon.

"Implementing our promise to free Arab prisoners in Israeli jails, our strugglers have captured two Israeli soldiers in southern Lebanon," a statement by Hezbollah said.

"The two soldiers have already been moved to a safe place," it added.

The Lebanese police said that the two soldiers were captured as they "infiltrated" into the town of Aitaa al-Chaab inside the Lebanese border.

Israeli aircraft were active in the air over southern Lebanon, the police said, with jets bombing roads leading to the market town of Nabatiyeh, 60 kms south of Beirut.

Lebanese security sources said the planes were bombarding roads, which might be used by Hezbollah guerrillas.

There was no immediate confirmation of the Hezbollah claims from any official Israeli source. An Israeli army spokeswoman, however, said there was "concern" over the fate of the two soldiers.

Israeli reports also say four people were wounded by projectiles fired from Lebanon.

In Beirut's southern suburbs, Hezbollah followers were on the streets celebrating the news of the two soldiers' capture, chanting "God is great ... our prisoners will be out soon."

There are still three Lebanese prisoners held in Israeli jails, among them the longest held Lebanese prisoner Samir Kantar, who was captured in 1979 after killing an Israeli scientist and his daughter during an attack on a northern Israeli coastal area.

Kantar's brother Bassam said: "We are now counting on Hezbollah to strike a deal to get my brother and other prisoners released."

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