Five U.N. peacekeepers wounded in south Lebanon blast

Reuters News
Posted: Jul 26, 2011 1:18 PM
Five U.N. peacekeepers wounded in south Lebanon blast

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A roadside bomb blew up a United Nations vehicle near the southern Lebanese port city of Sidon on Tuesday, wounding five French peacekeepers.

"It was a roadside bomb that hit a U.N. troop carrier on a bridge in Sidon," a Lebanese security official said, adding the wounded were from the French contingency.

Spokesman Neeraj Singh of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) confirmed an explosion occurred but said the circumstances have yet to be determined.

"An explosion targeted a UNIFIL convoy along the highway of Sidon, five UNIFIL peacekeepers were injured in the explosion. Three were transported to hospital for treatment," he said.

"UNIFIL forensic experts are at the scene and we are working in coordination with the Lebanese army to determine the circumstances of the incident."

Footage from the scene showed two wounded peacekeepers standing near the vehicle, one with a bandage covering one of his eyes and another with a small bandage on his neck.

The vehicle was slightly burned and its mounted gun was on the ground.

A similar attack near Sidon in May wounded six Italian peacekeepers, prompting Italy to look into reducing its peacekeeping contingent in Lebanon.

In June 2007, a car bomb killed six members of UNIFIL's Spanish battalion in south Lebanon. Nobody has been charged with that attack. The Spanish government has said it suspects al Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants were behind the bombing.

UNIFIL, which is made up of 35 nations, has about 12,000 troops and naval personnel in Lebanon after its expansion under U.N. Security Council resolution 1701 that halted the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in southern Lebanon.

UNIFIL operates alongside 15,000 Lebanese army troops who are deployed in the south to keep peace near the frontier with Israel and prevent weapon transfers in an area that is a stronghold of Hezbollah militant group.

(Additional reporting by Oliver Holmes)

(Writing by Mariam Karouny)