SLUG: 2-288353 Lebanon Peacekeepers (L-O)
TITLE=LEBANON / PEACEKEEPERS (L-O)
INTRO: The United Nations says Hezbollah militants have attacked four international military observers in Southern Lebanon. James Donahower reports from the United Nations.
TEXT: The un-armed observers were traveling in a clearly-marked U-N vehicle, according to U-N spokesman Fred Eckhard, but were attacked by what he called Hezbollah "elements" nonetheless.
/// ECKHARD ACT ///
The car windows were broken, and the U-N observers were dragged out of their car and assaulted with rifle butts. At this time, a four man patrol of UNAFIL (U-N peace-keepers) soldiers traveling the same route saw the incident and went to the assistance of the observers. A scuffle broke out between the peace-keepers and Hezbollah who, outnumbering them, were able to seize their weapons.
/// END ACT ///
One of the U-N officers on the scene radioed for help, and Lebanese authorities were notified. Mr. Eckhard says that the guerillas left the scene a few moments later.
Three of the peace-keepers were taken to a hospital in northern Israel. Mr. Eckard says it was a heavy beating" and one man suffered a fractured skull.
The U-N spokesman says the incident is being investigated at the highest level. He also said the United Nations has received an apology from Hezbollah, along with assurances that such an attack will not happen again.
Tensions have increased in the area because of reports that Hezbollah troops are massing on Lebanon's border with Israel. Hezbollah has also launched several rockets in cross-border attacks on the Jewish state. (SIGNED)
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