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A suicide bomber blew up a van Thursday near an Israeli army convoy in southern Lebanon, killing himself and wounding an Israeli soldier and 12 Lebanese civilians.

Seven of the civilians wounded were children, ranging in age from 12 to 16, according to the Lebanese Red Cross. Flying glass and shrapnel were largely to blame for the injuries, described by authorities as slight to serious.

The bomber exploded the van that was ahead of four Israeli army vehicles along the Qlaia highway, security officials said.

Sources with the Israeli-allied South Lebanon Army militia said that as the van overturned, three rockets blasted out, striking a nearby house. Seven of the injured were in the house, the sources said.

Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed guerrilla group, claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying that it was "designed to serve notice that the Islamic Resistance will continue its bloody struggle until occupation is defeated."

It was the first suicide bombing in nearly four years in southern Lebanon, the last active Arab-Israeli war front.

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