Annan condemns shelling of U.N. base in Lebanon
July 20, 1999
From staff and wire reports
UNITED NATIONS -- U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan on Tuesday condemned the shelling of a U.N. peacekeeping base by Israeli-backed forces in South Lebanon
The United Nations said that Finnish troops narrowly escaped with their lives after two shells directly hit a post occupied by the U.N. Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL).
"It was only because of the quick reaction of the Finnish troops manning the position and a great deal of luck that there were no casualties," Annan said in a statement.
Annan also recalled incidents in May and June, in which an Irish soldier was killed in similar attacks.
"This further incident, which occurred despite Israeli assurances, is deeply unsettling," he said.
UNIFIL was established in March of 1978 to confirm the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon and to help the Lebanese government reclaim authority in the area.
But Israel and its militia allies of the South Lebanon Army (SLA) still control a self-declared "security zone" set up in 1985 along the Lebanese side of the border to prevent guerrilla attacks against northern Israel.
UNIFIL has since modified it mission to "limit the conflict and protect the inhabitants" and to "promote stability in the area."
Frequent clashes occur involving Israeli and SLA troops and guerrillas, mainly from the Iranian-backed Hezbollah movement.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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