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Gunfire in South Lebanon Wounds U.N. Peacekeeper

June 20, 1987|Associated Press

BEIRUT — A U.N. soldier was shot and seriously wounded Friday as a U.N. envoy and Lebanese President Amin Gemayel discussed efforts to convene an international Middle East peace conference.

The Nepalese soldier was hit in the chest by machine gun fire coming from a position manned jointly by Israeli soldiers and their allies of the predominantly Christian South Lebanon Army militia, said Timur Goksel, spokesman for the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon.

A UNIFIL ambulance took the wounded soldier to a hospital in the Lebanese border town of Naqoura, where UNIFIL has its headquarters. The wounded soldier, whose name was withheld, underwent surgery. Goksel said his condition is "satisfactory."

UNIFIL's 600-strong Nepalese battalion mans a strip that overlaps with Israel's self-proclaimed "security zone," a six to 10-mile strip in southern Lebanon bordering Israel.

Goksel said the injured soldier, a private, was shot as he escorted a group of Lebanese villagers to Kafra, on the northern edge of the zone.

No Comment from Israel

An Israeli army spokesman in Tel Aviv said he could not immediately comment on the report because he had no information about it.

A presidential spokesman said Marrack Goulding, under secretary general of the United Nations, told Gemayel that Secretary General Javier Perez de Cuellar is "deeply involved in preparations to hold the proposed conference."

The spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Goulding also informed Gemayel of "the views and positions of the concerned parties" regarding the international conference.

Goulding flew in Thursday after visiting Syria, Jordan and Israel. On Friday he flew to Cairo and was also scheduled to visit Tunisia, where he plans to meet with Palestine Liberation Organization chief Yasser Arafat.

Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir has criticized Goulding's plans to meet with Arafat as "unnecessary, since no good or use can come from a meeting with Arafat."

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