BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) – Israeli fighter bombers killed 11 Lebanese soldiers and wounded 35 others in an overnight strike on a Lebanese army base, the military said Tuesday, as Israel renewed its attacks on Beirut and northern Lebanon.
The security officials said warplanes swooped down on the area of Kfar Chima early Tuesday, firing missiles near a local army base.
As the soldiers were rushing to their bomb shelters, the base took a direct hit, said security officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because the army had not yet made an announcement.
A military official said 11 soldiers were killed and 35 wounded at the base, which is camp for a unit that specialises in logistics and military engineering. Earlier security officials had reported five soldiers killed.
Kfar Chima is a hilly area adjacent to the strongholds of Hezbollah in southern Beirut that Israeli jets have attacked repeatedly in the past few days.
The Lebanese army has largely stayed out of the fighting between Hezbollah guerrillas and Israel, confining itself to firing anti-aircraft guns at the Israeli planes. But Israeli jets have often struck Lebanese army positions.
In other attacks early Tuesday, Israeli jets carried out two raids on southern Beirut, where Hezbollah is known to occupy many buildings, as well the coastal road in northern Lebanon and the eastern city of Baalbek.
The raids on southern Beirut caused explosions that reverberated across the city. Plumes of black smoke rose over the southern suburbs.
Parts of the south, such as the area around Hezbollah’s security headquarters in Haret Hreik, have been reduced to rubble by the airstrikes. And larger areas have been vacated as the residents have gone to live with friends and relatives in other parts of Lebanon.
Shortly before daybreak, Israeli planes blasted two trucks, one of them carrying concrete, on the coastal road in the town of Byblos, north of Beirut, local TV stations reported. There was no immediate word of casualties.
Apparently, the trucks were targeted for fear they might be carrying arms or missiles for Hezbollah. Israeli military officials have said that an airstrike on Monday destroyed at least one long-range Iranian missile capable of hitting Tel Aviv.
In eastern Lebanon, Israeli warplanes fired four missiles into the residential areas of Baalbek, witnesses reported. There were no immediate reports of casualties.
Israeli planes have frequently attacked the eastern city in the past few days as it is a Hezbollah stronghold.
Since the fighting began last Wednesday, when Hezbollah raided northern Israel and kidnapped two Israeli soldier, about 215 people have been killed in Lebanon.
These include 14 Lebanese soldiers, five of whom were killed in the overnight strike and another six when Israeli jets attacked a small fishing port in north Lebanon early Monday.
Sixty-six other soldiers have been wounded and most of the army’s radar stations have been destroyed.