TEL AVIV (Mar. 29)
The United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) suffered its first casualties today. One Swedish soldier, Karl Johansen, was killed and another, Marc Lindboerg, was injured by a mine explosion in the vicinity of the Khardala Bridge which Swedish forces occupied yesterday. The bridge is the easternmost span over the Litani River.
(At the United Nations in New York, Secretary General Kurt Waldheim said he “deeply regretted” the incident and sent condolences to Johansen’s family. He ordered UNIFIL officials in south Lebanon to begin an immediate investigation of the incident.)
It was learned meanwhile that Gen. Ensio Siilasvuo, supreme commander of UN forces in the Middle East, has assigned another officer to replace Col. Jonas Lindgren as commander of the Swedish unit in south Lebanon. Lindgren was removed from command reportedly because he ordered his troops to retreat when they came under fire in their initial attempt to take over the Khardala Bridge. The two remaining Litani bridges were also under UNIFIL control today.
Iranian troops occupy the Akia Bridge in the central region and French troops, after being turned away yesterday, succeeded in taking the Kasmiyeh Bridge in the west which controls the approaches to the terrorist-held port of Tyre.
TERRORIST SHELLING CONTINUES
Terrorist artillery north of the Litani River continued to shell Israeli towns in Upper Galilee today. There were no casualties but some damage was done to electric power lines and water pipes which were quickly repaired. Yesterday, Israeli Defense Minister Ezer Weizman gave the terrorists 48 hours to end their shelling or, he warned, Israeli forces would take action.
Israel is still waiting today for the results of Gen. Siilasvuo’s latest efforts to get the terrorists to comply with the cease-fire. He visited Beirut and Damascus today. It was reported that PLO chief Yasir Arafat promised UNIFIL Gen. Emmanuel Erskine of Ghana that the terrorists would observe the cease-fire and assist the UN forces in their mission.