(Israeli soldiers take positions in Zarit, northern Israel on the frontier with Lebanon, Wednesday, July 12, 2006. The Israeli Defense Ministry confirmed the capture of two Israeli soldiers by Lebanese guerrillas on Wednesday, and said it held the Lebanese government 'directly responsible' for their fate and safe return. 'The Lebanese government is responsible for the fate of the Israeli soldiers, and must take immediate action to locate them without harming them and return them to Israel,' the ministry said in a statement. Photo: AP)
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The militant group Hezbollah said it captured two Israeli soldiers during clashes across the border in southern Lebanon on Wednesday.
Israeli military officials could not immediately confirm whether the soldiers had been captured, but said they were taking Hezbollah's claim seriously.
Hezbollah announced the claim on Al-Manar, its television station in Lebanon, after Israeli aircraft struck guerrilla positions in southern Lebanon in response to rocket attacks on northern Israeli communities.
Medics in Israel said four people were wounded in the attacks.
Al-Manar reported that Israeli artillery pounded the outskirts of the villages of Aita el-Shaab, Ramieh and Yaroun in the hills east of the coastal border port of Naqoura.
Israeli troops and Hezbollah guerrillas occasionally clash along the border in southern Lebanon.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the latest flare-up, which came as Israel continued its two-week-old offensive against Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip to try to win the release of another captured Israeli soldier.
Israel's air force dropped a quarter-ton bomb on a residential building in Gaza earlier Wednesday, killing at least six people, including two children. The target of the airstrike had been top Hamas militants meeting in the building, but Hamas said its top fugitive got away.