Air strike kills Lebanese villagers

At least 12 Lebanese villagers, including women and children, were killed on Saturday in an Israeli air strike on vehicles fleeing a village in southern Lebanon, a witness said. The convoy was leaving the border village of Marwahin when it was attacked.

An Associated Press photographer said he counted 12 bodies in two cars that were destroyed by the attack shortly after midday (0900GMT).

An adviser to Lebanon’s health minister put the toll at about 15. Hasan Hutait told Aljazeera that two cars had been directly hit by Israeli fire.

The deaths brought the toll in Israel’s offensive in Lebanon to 79, Hutait said, adding that a total of 250 have been wounded.

Hours earlier, Israeli forces across the border told villagers by loudspeaker to leave the area or else the village would be destroyed. They did not give a reason for the ultimatum.

“Israeli forces threatened us on Saturday at 8 am to destroy our town if we do not evacuate it,” Akram Ghannam, a resident of Marwahin, told Aljazeera on Saturday.

Residents seeking refuge were turned away from a UN peacekeepers position, he said.

“People, including women and children, have gathered in the streets. They do not know where to go,” Ghannam said.

The convoy was hit near the border fence about 1 kilometer (0.62 miles) from the village.

There was no immediate confirmation from UN peacekeepers, who have a force in southern Lebanon.

Ghannam said there were no Hezbollah forces in Marwahin.

Also on Saturday, four civilians were killed in Israeli strikes across Lebanon.

Police said three people were killed when missiles struck near a bridge on the Assi river on the outskirts of the northeastern town of Hermel on the border with Syria.

Aljazeera reported an Iraqi worker was killed after an explosion at a fuel station near the southern coastal city of Sidon close to the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain Al-Helweh.

Israel is attacking Lebanon’s infrastructure and fuel stations, and about 30 bridges have been at least partly damaged.

Four more stikes destroyed a bridge linking al-Nabatiya to the town of al-Saksakiya.

Israeli warplanes also struck an abandoned shooting range in the suburbs of the northern Lebanese coastal city of Tripoli on Saturday, the most northern strike by Israel so far.

Nine members of two families, including three children, were wounded when two missiles destroyed a house where they had sought refuge in Jbal al-Botm, southeast of the southern port of Tyre.

Farther south, Israeli warplanes staged two raids on hills in Msaylih, near the residence of the Shia parliament speaker, police said. The area has been hit three times since Wednesday.

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