Eight Canadians killed in Lebanon: Ottawa

Jul. 16, 2006

Eight Canadians were killed in Lebanon on Sunday, Foreign Minister Peter MacKay said, adding that Canada was preparing to evacuate some of the tens of thousands of citizens believed to be in the country.

"All we can say is that there are eight confirmed casualties and six who have been critically injured," he told CTV television by telephone.

Asked whether this meant eight Canadians had died, MacKay replied: "That's the information that we have to date."

Earlier reports from Lebanon said five Canadians with dual Canadian and Lebanese citizenship had died when Israeli aircraft destroyed a house in the south of the country.

Around 16,000 Canadians in Lebanon have registered with the embassy there but MacKay said the real figure could be as high as 40,000. Canada has a significant population of Lebanese origin.

MacKay said Canada -- working in conjunction with Britain and France -- was securing commercial vessels and positioning them off the coast of Lebanon to prepare for an evacuation.

"We're calling for restraint in all sectors right now and hope to be able to have those ships in place and citizens moving out of Lebanon as quickly as possible," he said.

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper on Friday described the Israeli attacks as justified and measured. Since taking power in February he has shifted Ottawa's stance on the Middle East from one of relative neutrality to a firmly pro-Israel position.

"It's everyone's hope, of course, that these attacks from all sectors are going to cease ... what we do know is there's an enormous need to support and protect civilians and that's been our focus," MacKay said, adding that "it was very possible" he might visit the region soon.

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