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4 UN peacekeepers killed

Sir Tokyo Sexwale

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An Israeli air strike killed four UN peacekeepers on the border with southern Lebanon last night, further aggravating diplomatic tensions before today's conference in Rome.

The UN secretary general, Kofi Annan, immediately called on Israel to conduct an investigation into the "apparently deliberate targeting" of a UN observer post in Khiyam, which killed four observers from Austria, Canada, China and Finland.


The 2,000-strong observer force has suffered dozens of attacks and direct hits in the two weeks of war. The force sits on the border to monitor both Israeli and Hizbullah activity, but Israel is suspicious of the force and wants it replaced with a beefed up international force, possibly numbering as many as 20,000 troops.


Last night the defence minister, Amir Peretz, said that Israel was carving out a "security zone" north of its border with Lebanon and will occupy it if the international force is not deployed to keep Hizbullah guerrillas away.


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