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Last Updated: Friday, 18 August 2006, 16:26 GMT 17:26 UK
Lebanese bury Qana strike victims
Mourner in Qana
The Qana raid caused international outrage
Grieving relatives have been taking part in a mass funeral in the southern Lebanese town of Qana for 28 people killed in an Israeli air strike.

Relatives carried pictures of loved ones who were killed on 30 July. Most were women and children taking refuge.

About 200,000 displaced people have returned to southern Lebanon and 107,000 who fled to Syria have now returned to the country, the UN says.

Israel has been withdrawing from southern Lebanon under a UN truce.

Defiance

It has expressed regret for the Qana raid, saying it would not have bombed the building if had it known civilians were inside.

The Israelis are savages, they are heartless
Fatmeh Farhat
Bereaved relative

It said it believed the building housed militants and accused Hezbollah of using civilians as human shields.

Some mourners in Qana were defiant. One banner read: "These people are heroes. They woke up the world."

One mourner, Amal Chalhoub, told AP: "You can take a look at what's going on around us, all that has happened to us. We were not afraid, we have fighters. May God guard them."

An AFP news agency correspondent said three of the coffins were draped with Hezbollah flags and the rest with Lebanese national colours, as they were carried to the grave site in an open field.

In the rubble of southern Beirut

"The Israelis are savages, they are heartless," Fatmeh Farhat, who lost several of her cousins, told the agency.

"They should fight against our combatants and not our children and our disabled people."

More than 1,000 Lebanese and about 160 Israelis were killed in the month-long conflict, sparked by the capture by Hezbollah on 12 July of two Israeli soldiers.

Lebanon has been slowly recovering as the Israelis withdraw.

UN High Commissioner for Refugees spokeswoman Jennifer Pagonis, said: "There has been a phenomenal return of the displaced Lebanese to their homes."

In addition to those returning to southern Lebanon, another 200,000 have returned to homes in the heavily bombed southern suburbs of Beirut, the UN said.

But on Friday, Lebanon's reconstruction chief, Al-Fadl Shalaq, told Reuters the Israeli bombardment had inflicted $3.6bn (1.9bn) worth of damage on the country.




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