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2 Frenchmen in Beirut Slain, 3rd Wounded

October 29, 1987|Associated Press

BEIRUT — Gunmen in a speeding car sprayed three French Embassy guards with automatic rifle fire as the soldiers were shopping in Christian East Beirut today, killing two officers and seriously wounding the third.

A police spokesman said the two gunmen, driving a red Datsun, sped away. There was no immediate claim of responsibility. The Foreign Ministry in Paris condemned the "odious attack."

Christian militiamen in control of the area sealed off the attack site.

The police spokesman identified the dead as Lt. Christian Mondon and Warrant Officer Andre Courz and the wounded man as Pvt. Miguel Collignon, all French Embassy guards.

Shot With Automatic Rifles

"Mondon was killed instantly, Courz died on the way to hospital and Collignon is in serious condition," he said.

The spokesman said they were shot with 9-millimeter automatic rifles.

An eyewitness, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the three French military men were in a blue jeep.

"They parked the jeep near a vegetable stand at the Dawra boulevard and were taking to the vendor when I heard automatic fire. The three fell down, they were obviously hit," the witness said.

The attack was carried out during the morning rush hour, and motorists "deserted their cars and sought refuge in shops and supermarkets when they heard the shooting," the witness said.

Embassy Moved in 1986

The French Embassy moved to the capital's Christian sector early in 1986 after a spate of kidnapings and bomb attacks targeting foreigners in Muslim West Beirut.

French troops came to Beirut in the summer of 1982 as part of a multinational peacekeeping force that included U.S. soldiers. On Oct. 23, 1983, 59 Frenchmen were killed in the truck bombing of a French paratroop headquarters in Beirut. That same day, a bomb attack against the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut killed 241 American servicemen.

French troops pulled out in the spring of 1984.

Forty-five French truce observers ended a two-year mission in Beirut in April, 1986. Their departure reduced the French military contingent in Beirut to a group of embassy guards.

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