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Israeli soldier shot dead along Lebanon border

An Israeli soldier has been shot dead on the border with Lebanon. The area has been quiet since a month-long conflict in 2006. It is not clear why soldiers opened fire, and the UN is investigating.

Lebanon's National News Agency confirmed the shooting of an Israeli soldier by a member of the Lebanese army near the Rosh Hanikra border crossing late Sunday. Lebanese sources said they had lost contact with the Lebanese soldier after the shooting.

Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for United Nations forces in southern Lebanon, said the UN had been informed of a "serious incident" along the border and that the peacekeeping force UNIFIL was in contact with both the Lebanese and Israeli armies, who were cooperating.

"The incident happened on the Israeli side of the blue line," Tenenti said, referring to a line demarcating the border between the two states by the UN. He gave no further details, saying the investigation was ongoing.

Israel's military said in a statement that a sniper from the Lebanese Armed Forces had shot at an Israeli vehicle driving near Rosh Hanikra. Israel had lodged a complaint with the UN force in southern Lebanon and had heightened its state of preparedness along the border, spokesman Peter Lerner said.

"We will not tolerate aggression against the State of Israel, and maintain the right to exercise self defense against perpetrators of attacks against Israel and its civilians," Lerner said.

The Lebanese army has opened fire in the past, accusing Israeli soldiers of trying to infiltrate their territory.

In 2006, Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shia Islamic militant group, crossed into Israel and captured two Israeli soldiers. The ensuing month-long conflict killed about 1,200 Lebanese and 160 Israelis.

There have been sporadic incidents since - such as the 2010 shooting of a high-ranking Israeli officer after Israeli forces tried to cut down a tree along the border. While Hezbollah did not appear to have been involved in Sunday's shooting, it raised concerns that renewed fighting might break out.

jm/lw (Reuters, AP)