Hizbullah: Blast set off by old shells

Naim Kassem makes group's first comments since explosion in village near border earlier this month.

A senior Hizbullah official said Wednesday that explosions in southern Lebanon earlier this month were set off by old shells, not a secret arms cache. Comments made by the organization's deputy leader Sheikh Naim Kassem were the first on the nature of last week's explosion, which Israel and UN officials called a violation of a UN resolution. The explosions occurred on July 14 in village an abandoned building in the village of Khirbat a-Silm, about 15 kilometers from Israel. Israel's ambassador to the UN Gabriela Shalev called for "concrete" steps to confront a "new reality" in the region immediately after the incident, saying that it was a "flagrant" violation of the Security Council resolution that ended hostilities in 2006. The series of explosions that rocked the area reflect "larger efforts by Hizbullah to rearm itself, in direct contravention of resolution 1701," Shalev wrote. UN peacekeepers sent to examine the site were prevented by Hizbullah activists disguised as villagers from searching the building and were ordered to leave. E.B. Solomont contributed to this report.