Five killed In Clashes On Lebanon's Border With Israel

The clash along the Blue Line, the historically volatile frontier between the two states, was the most serious since Israel invaded southern Lebanon four years ago. The United Nations called for "maximum restraint" and said it was working with both sides to restore calm. As soldiers on both sides opened fire on each other, Israeli tanks and a helicopter gunship joined the fray. An Israeli lieutenant-colonel as well as three Lebanese soldiers and a Lebanese journalist were killed in the six-hour exchange. The deadly attacks were triggered by an attempt by Israeli soldiers to cut down trees along the fence dividing the country and a disagreement over which side of the border the trees grew. A Lebanese army officer claimed that the tree was on the Lebanese side of the border, while the Israeli military said in a statement that the tree was in Israeli territory. A retired Israeli general claimed that the incident was a Lebanese "ambush", saying that snipers had opened fire on his colleagues after they defied instructions made by loud hailer to retreat. He said that the Israeli soldiers had crossed a border fence that did not hug the border itself, and so was in Israeli territory. "What we understand is that it was a planned ambush," Maj-Gen Yaakov Amidror said. "Immediately after the change of words, the snipers opened fire, killing the commander and wounding a captain. "Both sides presented different versions, although they agreed that the incident was sparked by an exchange of fire following the tree dispute. The United States is “extremely concerned” about violence and urged “maximum restraint” to avoid escalation, State Department spokesman P J Crowley said. “We are trying to understand what happened ... Our greatest concern is that whatever did happen not be repeated. The region has enough tension as it is. The last thing that we want to see is that this incident expand into something more significant,” Mr Crowley said. Further escalating the tension, Israel's fore