Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Israel troops 'ignored' UN plea

Israel troops 'ignored' UN plea

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".

In southern Lebanon, fierce clashes have continued between Israeli forces and Hezbollah fighters around the town of Bint Jbail.

Reports say between eight and13 Israeli soldiers have been killed.

Israel has not confirmed any deaths, but says there have been 20 casualties.

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