A Chinese UN observer was among the four UN peacekeepers killed in an Israeli air strike on south Lebanon on Tuesday night. China strongly condemned the Israeli air raid and urged the concerned sides to ensure the safety of UN peacekeepers.
The body of the Chinese victim, whose name is Du Zhaoyu, has been recovered, said sources of the the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL). The UN observer from China was part of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in south Lebanon.
China on Wednesday felt "deeply shocked" by and "strongly condemned" an Israeli air raid on a United Nations post in south Lebanon, which killed four UN observers, including one from China.
"China urges the concerned sides, especially Israel, to take tangible measures to ensure the security of UN peacekeepers," said Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao on Wednesday.
Chinese Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun called in Israeli Ambassador Yehoyada Haim Wednesday morning and made solemn representations.
Chinese Ambassador to the UN Wang Guangya called UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, asking the UN to require Israel to take every measure to ensure the security of UN peacekeepers, including those from China, and investigate the event.
Milos Struger, spokesman of the UNIFIL, said earlier that an Israeli bomb directly hit the base of the United Nations Observer Group in the town of Khiam near the eastern end of the border with Israel.
By 03:10 am local time Wednesday, the UNIFIL have recovered three bodies of the victims from the rubble, including the Chinese observer.
The other three dead UN observers were from Finland, Austria and Canada, the UNIFIL sources confirmed.
Since Israel launched a massive military offensive against Lebanon and Hezbollah guerrillas on July 12, a Nigerian civilian employee working with UNIFIL and his wife, also a Nigerian, have been killed in the crossfire between Israeli forces and Hezbollah guerrillas in the southern port city of Tyre.
Five UNIFIL soldiers and one military observer have also been wounded, Struger said.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said he was "shocked and deeply distressed by the apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defense Forces of a UN Observer post in southern Lebanon."
"This coordinated artillery and aerial attack on a long established and clearly marked UN post at Khiam occurred despite personal assurances given to me by (Israeli) Prime Minister Ehud Olmert that UN positions would be spared Israeli fire," Annan said in a statement.
"I called on the government of Israel to conduct a thorough inquiry into this tragic incident and will inform the UN of its results as soon as possible, " he said.
In Jerusalem, Israel expressed regret on Wednesday over the deaths of four UN observers in south Lebanon.
"Israel sincerely regrets the tragic death of the UN personnel in south Lebanon," said Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman Mark Regev.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN John Bolton also expressed regret over the deaths of UN observers.
"We are obviously very sorry about that. We're attempting to get information where we can to confirm the nature of the incident," Bolton said.
France also condemned the bombing on the UNIFIL position.
New Zealand condemned Israeli attacks that have struck U.N. posts in Lebanon, demanding an immediate cease-fire by both sides.
"There should be an immediate cease-fire, but in the absence of that, we call on both sides to cease attacks ... on U.N. posts and personnel," said New Zealand Prime Minister Helen Clark.