Around the world

ATTACK: Iranian-backed militants attacked Israeli troops and allied militiamen at four positions in southern Lebanon Thursday, drawing retaliatory artillery barrages that wounded three civilians, security sources said. Hezbollah guerrillas used rocket-propelled grenades, mortars and automatic weapons in simultaneous attacks on the outposts of Ali Taher, Tohra, Soweida and Dabshe, the sources said on condition of anonymity.PROBE: Canada's Health Ministry says it will investigate how the computerized medical histories of thousands of Vancouver-area patients ended up on sale at a discount store in Langley, British Columbia. At least 20 floppy disks filled with the confidential records turned up at a Value Village store in western Canada. The reports detailed everything from hysterectomies to breast operations and herpes.

EXECUTED: A man has been executed in southern China's Fujian Province for selling the skins of two giant pandas, which are listed as endangered animals, semi-official media reported Thursday. The 39-year-old man was from from central China's Sichuan Province, home to most of China's increasingly rare giant pandas. He was executed Wednesday in the Fujian city of Xiamen, the China News Service reported.

Across the nation

ARRESTS: Houston police made nine arrests in the beating and torture of a 17-year-old runaway who other homeless teenagers said was brutalized over a drug debt. The youngster was beaten, sodomized with a curling iron, doused on his head and genitals with flammable liquids and set afire with a cigarette lighter. He was kept in a closet at an apartment, taken out only to be beaten further, police say.

OOPS: The Federal Aviation Administration Wednesday tried to determine how a panel from the wing of a Boeing 727 ended up on a golf course outside Chicago. The nearly 31/2-foot access panel was discovered Tuesday at the White Pines Golf Course near O'Hare International Airport. Although concerned about the discovery, Great Lakes Region FAA spokesman Don Zochert said the plane probably flew just fine without it.

SCUTTLED: Breezy weather in Reno, Nev., scrubbed a fifth attempt by the crew of the Earthwinds Hilton balloon to make aviation history with a nonstop flight around the world. The 370-foot-tall craft was supposed to take off early Thursday. Another try is scheduled for dawn Friday.