BEIRUT — Lebanese Christian gunmen assassinated a senior army officer in his bed Monday after his troops shot and killed two Christian militiamen in the central Lebanese mountains, police reported.
The shooting pointed to the growing friction between the regular army and the Lebanese Forces, the nation's largest Christian militia. The friction emerged after soldiers and Lebanese Forces militiamen fought together in savage street battles in Christian East Beirut over the weekend to crush an attempted comeback by an ousted, pro-Syrian militia commander, Elie Hobeika.
Meanwhile, a French free-lance television cameraman and his assistant were missing and presumed kidnaped, according to the French Embassy and family members. The Frenchman, Jean-Marc Sroussi, 41, is the 20th foreigner missing or kidnaped in Lebanon.
Sroussi was last seen Sunday driving to Muslim West Beirut. A witness said he saw Muslim militiamen climb into Sroussi's car and race away. Sroussi's aide, a Maronite Catholic Syrian, was last seen Friday.
Police officers said that Lebanese Forces militiamen stormed the house of Col. Khalil Kenaan in East Beirut's Hazmieh district at daybreak and sprayed his bed with machine-gun fire, killing him. His wife was seriously wounded, police said.
Kenaan, 51, was commander of the army's predominantly Christian 5th Brigade. His soldiers shot and killed two Lebanese Forces militiamen at a checkpoint set up near a military garrison in the central mountain resort of Monteverde on Sunday, police said.
Samir Geagea, commander of the 8,000-strong Lebanese Forces, sent a militia contingent to Monteverde on Sunday without consulting the army command.
Lebanese Forces spokesmen said the move was made to reinforce the army against another possible thrust by Syrian-allied Christian dissidents.
But the army garrison ordered the Lebanese Forces' contingent to remove the checkpoint. Troops opened fire when the militiamen refused, police said.
Raid on House
The two militiamen killed were brothers from the powerful Christian Rahmeh clan. Dozens of their relatives serving with the Lebanese Forces attacked Kenaan's house, a mile from the palace of President Amin Gemayel.
The assailants then raided Ghazir village, 12 miles northeast of Beirut, and destroyed the house of Maj. Antoine Krayyem, commanding officer of Monteverde garrison. He was not at home, police said.
Geagea's command had earlier warned in a communique that it would not "allow reckless army officers to behave randomly." It urged the army commander, Gen. Michel Aoun, to punish the officers responsible for killing the Rahmeh brothers.