ADAYSSEH: Lebanese and Israeli troops exchanged fire on the border Tuesday in the most serious clashes since a fierce war four years ago.
Lebanon said at least two of its soldiers and a journalist were killed in shelling.
There were conflicting accounts of what sparked the gunfire.
Israel’s military said its soldiers came under fire inside Israeli territory during a routine patrol and retaliated with artillery fire. A Lebanese army officer said the clash started when Israeli troops tried to remove a tree from the Lebanese side of the border.
An Associated Press photo showed an Israeli standing on a crane reaching over the fence that separates the two sides on the Lebanese side of the border.
The Lebanese officer said one of the Israeli shells hit a house in the Lebanese border town of Adaisseh. One civilian was wounded in the shelling, he said. A security official also said a Lebanese journalist working for the daily Al-Akhbar newspaper, Assaf Abu Rahhal, was killed when an Israeli shell landed next to him in Adaisseh.
"The Israelis fired four shells (from a tank) that fell near a Lebanese army position on the outskirts of the village of Adaysseh and the Lebanese army fired back," a security official in the area told AFP, adding that two houses were damaged by the rockets.
An army spokesman said the clashes erupted after Israeli soldiers attempted to uproot a tree on the Lebanese side of the border.
"The Israelis began to fire and we responded," he said.
Meanwhile, Israel warned Lebanon of “consequences” if clashes recur.
"Israel sees the government of Lebanon as responsible for this grave incident and warns of consequences in the event that disturbances of this kind continue," a statement from office of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.
The Israeli army could be heard calling in Arabic for an immediate ceasefire over loudspeakers.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman and Prime Minister Saad Al-Hariri slammed Israel’s "aggression" against their country as Lebanese and Israeli troops exchanged fire along their tense border.
Hariri condemned the "violation of Lebanese sovereignty and demands, the United Nations and the international community bear their responsibilities and pressure Israel to stop its aggression," a statement from his office said.
"The president denounces the new Israeli violation of Resolution 1701, which includes … the bombing of a Lebanese army checkpoint and attacks on Lebanese property," a statement released by Suleiman’s office said.
The UN force stationed in southern Lebanon on Tuesday urged "maximum restraint" following the clashes.
"Our immediate priority at this time is to restore calm in the area," Neeraj Singh, spokesman for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told AFP.
"Acting force Commander Brigadier General Santi Bonfanti is in contact with the command of both the Lebanese Armed Forces and the Israeli Defense Forces urging maximum restraint."
He said UNIFIL peacekeepers were in the area where the clashes took place "trying to ascertain the circumstances of the incident and any possible casualties."
Adaysseh is located about 30 kilometers (19 miles) east of the coastal city of Tyre.
An AFP correspondent in Adaysseh said soldiers from the Indonesian contingent serving with the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon tried to no avail to calm the situation before the clashes erupted.
Earlier reports on Israel public radio said two rockets had been fired across the border, but Israel police denied any projectiles had landed in the north.
"Nothing was fired into the north," spokesman Mickey Rosenfeld told AFP.
Abu Ali, a resident of Adaysseh, said Israeli helicopters could be seen over flying the village some one hour after the incident which erupted shortly after noon (0900 GMT).
Rescue workers in Adaisseh evacuate a Lebanese army soldier wounded in clashes between Lebanese and Israeli troops along their tense border. AFP Photo Mahmoud Zayat