Sweden will withdraw its 200 troops serving with the U.N. peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon, Foreign Minister Karin Soeder told a parliamentary committee in Stockholm yesterday.
U.N. Secretary General Kurt Waldheim has approved the move, Soeder said, adding that it will take place toward the middle of this month.
The contingent was transferred to Lebanon from Egypt following the March 15 Israeli invasion and is now to return to U.N. duty in the Sinai. The shift is not expected to have a major effect on the U.N. effort in Lebanon. Troops from other countries are continuing to arrive, with Nigerian and Irish units due shortly.
Tensions are high in southern Lebanon because of a clash Tuesday night between Norwegian U.N. troops and Palestinian guerrillas, a week after three U.N. troops were killed in fighting near Tyre.
A spokesman for Yasser Arafat's Palestine Liberation Organization, asked to comment on the clash in which one guerrilla was killed and a Norweigan lieutenant was wounded, said the PLO's policy is "peaceful coexistence" with the U.N. force.
The spokesman, Mahmoud Labadi, pledged that the PLO would try to prevent further attacks by radical guerrillas.
Norweigan soldiers fought for about 30 minutes with the guerrillas near the southeastern town of Kaukaba, according to residents, who said the Norweigans opened fire when guerrillas tried to erect a roadblock against U.N. directives.
Norweigan Col. Lief Schanche said however that about 50 guerrillas opened fire from surrounding hills on about 30 Norwegians and a dozen of them advanced on the U.N. post.
"We fired into the air but they didn't stop, and we opened up directly with machine guns and antitank weapons," he said. In addition to the guerrilla fatality, three others were wounded.
It was the first instance of Norwegian U.N. troops firing back, although they have been shot at previously.
The colonel said the Norwegians, in later talks with the guerrillas, were given a pledge that further fighting would be avoided.
In the previous clash on May 3 Palestinian guerrillas ambushed U.N. troops near Tyre, killing two French troops and one Senegalese. Ten U.N. troops have died since March, most in mine explosions.
Police in Beirut, meanwhile, were investigating the murder of a man identified from papers on the body as Paul Wilson, 22, a Louisiana resident registered as a University of Georgia student.
He was shot in the head and stabbed at least six times. His body was found east of Beirut in a predominantly Christian area.