Hezbollah militant killed in Beirut

Hezbollah on Wednesday said one of its leaders had been assassinated near Beirut and accused Israel, the Lebanese Shiite movement's arch-foe, of being behind the killing.

"The Islamic resistance announces the death of one of its leaders, the martyr Hassan Hawlo al-Lakiss, who was assassinated near his house in the Hadath region" east of Beirut, Hezbollah television channel Al Manar said.

"Direct accusation is aimed of course against the Israeli enemy which had tried to eliminate our martyred brother again and again and in several places but had failed, until yesterday evening," a Hezbollah statement broadcast by the channel said. "This enemy must bear full responsibility for and all the consequences of this heinous crime," it added. A Hezbollah source said Lakiss was very close to the Shiite movement's leader, Hassan Nasrallah. The killing occurred around midnight, soon after Nasrallah had given an interview to Lebanese broadcaster OTV.

Israel and Hezbollah fought a month-long war in the summer of 2006 in which more than 1,200 Lebanese, mainly civilians, and more than 150 Israelis, were killed.AFP