Cluster bomb kills Briton in south Lebanon

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BEIRUT, Oct 11 (Reuters) A British man was killed today while clearing cluster bombs dropped on south Lebanon by Israel during its war with Hezbollah guerrillas last year, a U.N. spokeswoman said.

He was the 13th person to be killed during work to clear unexploded ordinance from the war in July and August, 2006, said Dalya Farran of the United Nations Mine Action Coordination Centre (UNMACC) in Lebanon.

The incident was under investigation, she said, declining to identify the man because his next of kin had yet to be notified.

He worked for a private company as part of the UNMACC clearance effort, she said.

Lebanese security sources said the Briton was killed near Bint Jbeil, a town close to the border with Israel. Cluster bombs had also killed a six-year-old boy and a shepherd in the same area over the last week, the sources said.

Farran said 23 civilians had been killed by unexploded ordinance, mostly cluster bombs, since the end of the war. The conflict was triggered on July 12 when Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers in a cross-border raid.

UNMACC says Israel dropped a ''few million'' cluster bombs on Lebanon. Hundreds of thousands of the bomblets failed to explode, Farran said. The number could be as high as 1 million.

Cluster bombs are fired from the air or ground in canisters which burst to release the bomblets, some as small as a torch battery.

UNMACC says its work has been hindered because Israel has not responded to UN requests for data on where it dropped the bombs, which were mostly used in the last three days of the conflict.

Israel says it uses cluster bombs in accordance with international law, under which they are not banned outright.

REUTERS AE ND1625

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