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50 Lebanese Civilians Killed in Israeli Airstrike


An Israeli airstrike in southern Lebanon has killed at least 50 civilians, in the bloodiest incident in the 19-day offensive against Hezbollah guerillas.

Lebanese officials say almost half of those killed in the town of Qana were children. Lebanon's health minister Mohammad Khalifeh says the deaths bring the toll from Israel's offensive to 750 people. More than 50 Israelis have been killed.

Rescuers are still searching through the rubble of the three-story building, where civilians had sought refuge after earlier Israeli attacks.

The Israeli army says Hezbollah has repeatedly fired missiles from the area, and that it had warned civilians in Qana to leave.

Lebanese officials say another Israeli airstrike in Yaroun killed five people, including two children. And Israeli ground troops moved a few kilometers into southern Lebanon and fought Hezbollah guerrillas near Taibe.

On Saturday, Israeli warplanes struck the main crossing point from Lebanon into Syria, cutting off travel on the highway in both directions.

Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah warned that more rockets will be fired into central Israel unless the bombardment of Lebanese territory ends.

Qana is also where more than 100 Lebanese civilians were killed in 1996 when Israel bombarded a United Nations base during a campaign against Hezbollah.

Information for this report is provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

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