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Israel troops 'ignored' UN plea
by BBC (reposted)
Wednesday Jul 26th, 2006 6:53 AM
UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon contacted Israeli troops 10 times before an Israeli bomb killed four of them, an initial UN report says.
The post was hit by a precision-guided missile after six hours of shelling nearby, diplomats familiar with the initial probe into the deaths say.

The news came as crisis talks seeking to end the fighting between Hezbollah and Israel ended in Rome.

They agreed immediate action "to reach with the utmost urgency a ceasefire".

The four unarmed UN observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland, died after their UN post was hit by an Israeli air strike on Tuesday.

The UN report says each time the UN contacted Israeli forces, they were assured the firing would stop.

Israel is conducting an investigation into the deaths, and has rejected accusations made by UN Secretary General Kofi Annan that the targeting of the UN position was "apparently deliberate".

by more
Wednesday Jul 26th, 2006 6:54 AM
Annan was attending tense diplomatic talks with key Middle East figures in Rome. Those negotiations -- being held to agree to a plan to halt the hostilities in Lebanon -- have failed, according to sources involved in the talks and sources in Jerusalem and Washington.

Diplomats are trying to come up with some kind of face-saving statement, the sources said.

The talks had been made even more urgent by the observers' deaths, in what Annan called an "apparently deliberate" strike that "deeply distressed" him.

"This coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long-established and clearly marked U.N. post at Khiyam occurred despite personal assurances given to me by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that U.N. positions would be spared Israeli fire," he said in a statement.

"Furthermore, General Alain Pelligrini, the U.N. force commander in south Lebanon, had been in repeated contact with Israeli officers throughout the day on Tuesday, stressing the need to protect that particular U.N. position from attack."

The airstrike came as Israeli forces continued to battle Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, seeking to end the Islamic militia's rocket attacks on northern Israel.