NAQOURA, Lebanon (AP) – Israeli artillery hit a convoy evacuating villagers from southern Lebanon on Friday, slightly wounding a journalist and a driver.

Mohammed Naghawi, a Jordanian cameraman working for German TV channel N24, told The Associated Press by telephone that he and his driver Mohammed Haddad were rushed to U.N. peacekeeping headquarters at the border town of Naqoura for treatment of superficial injuries at a hospital there.

An AP photographer in the convoy, who was unhurt, said the explosion occurred as the ambulances, evacuees and journalists were returning from the village of Rmeish, where it had picked up residents – including Americans and Australians – trapped by the fighting.

The convoy was driving on a border road 21/2 miles east of the coastal town of Naqoura when the strike hit.

The driver, who wore a bulletproof jacket, had some cuts on the neck and right arm, but was conscious and walking when he was taken in for treatment at the U.N. hospital.

An Israeli military spokesman said convoy organizers were warned to wait a day before trying to reach the village. He said Israeli artillery fire was going on in the area but maintained the hit was “most likely” not Israeli.

The convoy was organized by relatives of the trapped residents. The Australian Embassy contacted Israel to try to arrange safe passage and was told the convoy’s safety could not be guaranteed on short notice, said the spokesman, Capt. Jacob Dallal.

“We told them to hold off and we would coordinate tomorrow,” he said. “They traveled anyway, against our request, and they came into an area that was under fire.”

He said Israel was committed to allowing safe passage for aid and evacuation convoys, “but it must be coordinated in advance.”


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