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Report: Iraqis lobbed shell into Kuwait

Iraqi forces are thought to have fired a mortar shell that landed near a U.N. patrol and observation post on the Kuwaiti side of the border, a spokesman for the international observers said Monday.

The firing took place Sunday and nobody was hurt, said Daljeet Bagga, spokesman for the U.N. Iraq-Kuwait Observation Mission.

He said the 82mm shell made a "small crater" in the ground, and a cloud of smoke attracted a Kuwaiti police patrol. The trajectory "indicated it could have been fired from Safwan inside Iraq," he said.

The incident, the first of its kind in about three years, was a "very serious matter," and Iraq has been asked to investigate, Bagga said.

In Baghdad, Iraqi Deputy Prime Minister Tariq Aziz said Monday evening that he knew nothing about the U.N. claim.

"The Kuwaitis always fabricate lies against Iraq as part of the American-known campaign. I am not surprised," he said.

Bagga said Kuwaiti border police also said that 15 minutes before the mortar firing, two Iraqis "in khakis" were seen firing several rounds from a Kalashnikov in the direction of the Kuwaiti border. Nobody was hurt and observers found no bullets, he said.

The desert frontier between the two countries has been closed since the 1991 Gulf War.