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Thursday, July 28, 2011     GET REAL

UN peacekeepers on edge after recent attacks
in Lebanon

NICOSIA — The United Nations has said it fears for the safety of its peace-keeping force in Lebanon.


The latest attack took place on July 26 when five French officers of UNIFIL were injured in a bombing near the port city of Sidon. An improvised explosive device that weighed two kilograms was detonated as a UNFIL convoy passed by.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon has been attacked twice in almost as many months, Middle East Newsline reported. In both strikes, UNIFIL convoys were bombed in southern Lebanon and no claim of responsibility was issued.

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"This is the second assault on UNIFIL peacekeepers in recent months," the U.S. State Department said. "We call on the government of Lebanon to conduct a full investigation into the incident and ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice."

"A five-vehicle convoy was between Beirut and Dar Kifa when one vehicle was hit by an explosion, the reason for which is still undetermined," the French military said.

A similar attack injured six members of the Italian contingent of UNIFIL on May 28. The Lebanese Army has failed to make any arrests or determine the identities of the attackers.

"The [UNIFIL] mission already has in place comprehensive security and protective arrangements, which are regularly reviewed and risk mitigating measures applied while ensuring mandate implementation," UNIFIL said on July 27.

UNIFIL has a force of 12,000 in southern Lebanon, believed controlled by the Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah. Several of the nations that have contributed forces to the UN mission have demanded an intensive Lebanese effort to stop the bombings and capture the insurgents.

"We are working in coordination with the Lebanese Army to determine the circumstances of the incident," a UNIFIL spokesman said.

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