Beijing yesterday strongly condemned an Israeli air raid in Lebanon that killed four UN observers including a Chinese national, and urged all sides, especially Israel, to take tangible measures to ensure the security of UN peacekeepers.
President Hu Jintao instructed officials to condemn the attack, said a statement from the Foreign Ministry.
He expressed "deep condolences" over the death of Chinese UN observer Lieutenant-Colonel Du Zhaoyu and expressed utmost sympathy to his family.
Hu "demanded the departments concerned properly handle the aftermath of the incident and take every measure necessary to ensure the safety of Chinese nationals in Lebanon," it said.
Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao said earlier that China felt "deeply shocked" by and "strongly condemned" the Israeli air raid.
The country called for an immediate ceasefire. "China urges the concerned sides, especially Israel, to take tangible measures to ensure the security of UN peacekeepers," Liu said.
"China will work with the international community, increase diplomatic efforts and push the Middle East situation back to peace and stability at an early date," he added.
The air raid in southern Lebanon early yesterday killed four UN observers. The other three were from Finland, Austria and Canada, UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) sources confirmed.
Milos Struger, spokesman for UNIFIL, said that an Israeli bomb directly hit the base of the UN Observer Group in the town of Khiam near the eastern end of the border with Israel.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement that he was "shocked and deeply distressed" by the attack, saying it was "apparently deliberate targeting by Israeli Defence Forces."
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert expressed "deep regret" over the killing of UN peacekeepers, but rejected Annan's charge.
He told Annan in a phone call that the UN post was hit inadvertently.
"It's inconceivable for the UN to define an error as an apparently deliberate action," Olmert said.
Assistant Foreign Minister Zhai Jun summoned Israeli Ambassador Yehoyada Haim yesterday morning and told him that "China...urges Israel to thoroughly investigate the event and apologize to China and the victim's families, and co-ordinate with China to deal with the aftermath."
Haim offered Israel's apology, pledging that a thorough investigation would be held at an early date.
Chinese Ambassador to the UN Wang Guangya yesterday called UN Deputy Secretary-General Mark Malloch Brown, and asked the UN to require Israel to take every measure to ensure the security of UN peacekeepers, including those from China, and investigate the event.
Israel has intensified air raids on Lebanese targets since launching a massive assault on July 12 when Hezbollah guerrillas kidnapped two Israeli soldiers and killed eight in cross-border attacks.
About 420 Lebanese and 42 Israelis have been killed in the two-week violence.
Source: China Daily