BEIRUT — A 72-year-old Christian legislator died Saturday when a rocket hit his apartment building during shelling duels between Syrian and Christian gunners, police said.
Meanwhile, a Lebanese navy gunboat ferried 14 badly wounded Christians to a French naval vessel anchored off Beirut as a French humanitarian aid mission got under way.
A police spokesman said the legislator, Louis abu Sharaf, was killed when a rocket landed near his apartment on the third floor of an eight-story building in Christian East Beirut.
Abu Sharaf was the first legislator to die in a shelling attack in Lebanon's 15-year-old civil war. A member of the Christian Falangist Party, he had represented Christian Kesrouan province since 1960.
His death raised to 23 the number of deputies who have died since the last parliamentary elections in 1972.
The war between Christians and Muslims has prevented parliamentary elections since then, and Abu Sharif's death reduced the number of deputies in the 99-seat house to 75.
Police said intermittent shelling duels intensified before sundown as gunners from both sides blasted Beirut and its surroundings, killing four people and wounding 31.
An Italian tanker with a cargo of diesel oil, the Cochinella, was hit by a shell eight miles off Beirut on Saturday, an Italian Embassy official said.
The French naval ship La Rance dropped anchor 10 miles off the Christian port of Juniyah, where France's minister for humanitarian aid, Bernard Kouchner, is supervising a mercy mission for both Christians and Muslims.