2 Dead, 2 Missing After U.N. Post Hit

By HUSSEIN DAKROUB
The Associated Press
Tuesday, July 25, 2006; 6:57 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon -- An Israeli bomb destroyed a U.N. observer post on the border in southern Lebanon, killing two peacekeepers and leaving two others feared dead in what appeared to be a deliberate strike, U.N. chief Kofi Annan said.

The bomb made a direct hit on the building and shelter of the observer post in the town of Khiyam near the eastern end of the border with Israel, said Milos Struger, spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping force in Lebanon known as UNIFIL.

Annan issued a statement saying two U.N. military observers were killed with two more feared dead. Earlier, U.S. Ambassador John Bolton said the Security Council was informed that four officers were killed, but he had no other information.

Rescue workers were trying to clear the rubble, but Israeli firing "continued even during the rescue operation," Struger said.

As reports of the attack emerged, Annan rushed out of a hotel in Rome following a dinner with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Lebanese Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

"I am shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces of a U.N. Observer post in southern Lebanon," Annan said in the statement.

Annan said in his statement that the post had been there for a long time and was marked clearly, and was hit despite assurances from Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that U.N. positions would not be attacked.

"I call on the goverment of Israel to conduct a full investigation into this very disturbing incident and demand that any further attack on U.N. positions and personnel must stop," Annan said in the statement.

U.N. officials said four observers were in the post when the bomb hit, and the building had been destroyed. Two bodies had been recovered and two were unaccounted for, apparently still in the rubble. They spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue.

Since Israel launched a massive military offensive against Lebanon and Hezbollah guerrillas July 12, an international civilian employee working with UNIFIL and his wife have been killed in the crossfire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas in the southern port city of Tyre.

Five UNIFIL soldiers and one military observer have also been wounded, Struger said.


© 2006 The Associated Press