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1. The purpose of this report is to inform the Security Council of two grave incidents which have recently caused the deaths of two members of the Nepalese contingent in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). These deaths were the first deliberate killings of UNIFIL personnel since the series of incidents which afflicted the Force between August and December 1986.
2. On 25 August 1987, a vehicle containing the company commander of "B" Company of the Nepalese battalion, another Nepalese officer and three Nepalese soldiers was ambushed on the road between positions 5-6 and 5-13 west of Kafra. One of the soldiers was killed and three other occupants of the vehicles were wounded, one of them seriously. The assailants could not be apprehended and their identity remains unknown. But the UNIFIL Board of Inquiry into the incident, whose report I have just received, has found that the ambush was a deliberate attempt by armed elements to assassinate the company commander of B Company. This officer had previously received an anonymous letter threatening him with death if the Nepalese battalion continued to construct wire obstacles across a track known to be used by Lebanese armed elements to infiltrate armed men and weapons through the UNIFIL area of operation in the direction of the "Security Zone".
3. On the morning of 4 October 1987, personnel of the South Lebanese Army (SLA) tried to force their way through position 5-15 with a tank and an armoured personnel carrier (APC)• They were prevented from doing so by personnel of the Nepalese battalion who used an APC to block the road. After negotiations the SLA personnel returned to their positions on Tallet Huqban. Shortly thereafter, SLA personnel on Tallet Huqban fired three rounds of light machine gun fire at position 5-14. A sentry on duty there was wounded in the leg and arrangements were made to evacuate him to the Swedish Medical Company at UNIFIL headquarters. As the wounded soldier was being evacuated from position 5-14, in a fully marked United Nations ambulance with its light flashing, SLA personnel on Tallet Huqban fired three heavy machine gun rounds at the ambulance, which at that time was still close to the SLA position. One round hit the wounded soldier in the neck and killed him. This incident was vigorously protested to the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), who were asked to stop further unprovoked firing by the SLA. Intermittent mortar and machine gun fire at or close to UNIFIL positions in the area nevertheless continued for a further three hours.
4. The IDF subsequently promised a full investigation of the incident and asked the Force Commander of UNIFIL to convey their condolences to the Nepalese battalion. The Force Commander has informed me that there was no apparent reason for the attempt of the SLA to force position 5-15 or for their further firing at UNIFIL positions. Members of the Council will recall that the SLA positions on Tallet Huqban have for many months been responsible for unprovoked firing both at Lebanese villages and their inhabitants and at UNIFIL positions (see S/18990, para. 11). In August and September 1987 alone there were at least 36 cases of firing at or close to Nepalese battalion personnel from these positions.
5. These two incidents provide a graphic and tragic illustration of the dangerous situation of UNIFIL placed, as it is, between the IDF/SLA forces in southern Lebanon and the various Lebanese groups which are resisting the Israeli occupation by force of arms. The terms of reference of UNIFIL contained in document S/12611, which was approved by resolution 426 (1978), require the Force to "ensure that its area of operation is not utilized for hostile activities of any kind". When the warring parties fail to respect these terms of reference, UNIFIL is under instructions to take what action it can to stop or hinder their military activities. It is from such action by UNIFIL that unjustifiable incidents like those described above can develop.
6. As I have indicated before, these difficulties could be resolved if Israel withdrew its forces from Lebanon, as the Security Council called upon it to do nine and a half years ago, and if the various armed groups in southern Lebanon co-operated with UNIFIL in maintaining .international peace and security on the border, pending full restoration of the Lebanese Government's effective authority.
I accordingly renew my appeal to the members of the Security Council, and especially to its permanent members, to do all in their power to get the parties to help UNIFIL carry out its mandate. Only such action by the members of the Council can justify the sacrifices which they continue to ask of the troop-contributing governments and which the latter so steadfastly bear.