Lebanese, Israeli troops exchange fire on border

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli and Lebanese troops briefly exchanged fire Monday on the countries' border, a volatile area where tensions can easily reignite hostilities between the two nations.

Officials on both sides reported no casualties and each blamed the other for the clash.

The Israeli military said Lebanese army soldiers fired on Israeli troops conducting a routine border patrol in Israeli territory, provoking the Israeli soldiers to return fire.

A Lebanese military official said the shooting occurred after Israeli forces briefly entered Lebanese territory. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said the shooting took place along the Wazzani River in the southeastern corner of Lebanon across from Israeli positions.

Neeraj Singh, a spokesman for the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, said the gunfire had ceased and the area was quiet. UNFIL has launched an investigation to determine how the incident unfolded, he added.

Israeli military officials said Israel wanted "to contain the situation and maintain the calm at the border."

The violence stoked new tensions on the volatile frontier where Israel and Lebanese Hizbullah militants battled five years ago in a devastating monthlong war.

In May, Israeli troops clashed with a large crowd of pro-Palestinian Lebanese demonstrators who approached the border. The military acknowledges opening fire after protesters tried to damage the border fence. But it says the six demonstrators killed might have been shot by Lebanese army troops, a claim the Lebanese dispute.

In another incident that took place almost a year ago, Lebanese and Israeli troops exchanged fire in a fierce border battle that killed a senior Israeli officer, two Lebanese soldiers and a journalist.

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