Hezbollah Guerrillas Shell Israeli Positions in Lebanon

Hezbollah (search) guerrillas shelled Israeli positions Friday in a disputed border area in southern Lebanon, and Israel responded with artillery fire, security officials said.

There was no immediate word on casualties from either attack.

The shelling, which began at 9:40 a.m., apparently came in retaliation for the assassination of Hezbollah security official, Ali Hussein Saleh (search), who was killed in a car bombing south of Beirut (search) on Saturday. Hezbollah had blamed Israel for the bombing.

Hezbollah, backed by Syria (search) and (search), led a guerrilla war against Israel's 18-year occupation of a southern Lebanon border zone, which ended in May 2000.

Friday's shelling was the first Hezbollah attack in eight months. The border area has been largely quiet since January.

The Lebanese officials said the guerrillas fired a volley of rockets and mortar shells at the Israeli military outposts of Roueissat el-Alam, al-Samaka and al Radar inside the Chebaa Farms area.

Black smoke was seen rising from at least one of these positions, witnesses said.

Israeli troops responded with artillery fire targeting suspected guerrilla hideouts around the village of Kfar Chouba, which lies near the Israeli-occupied Chebaa Farms area, the officials said on condition of anonymity.

Hezbollah has been linked to several past attacks, including the 1983 bombing of the U.S. Embassy and a Marine barracks in Beirut that killed 241 American servicemen.

Israel and the United States view Hezbollah as a terrorist group, but Lebanon regards it as a legitimate resistance movement opposed to Israeli occupation of Arab land.