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Bomb blast wounds five UN Blue Helmets in Lebanon


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Bomb blast wounds five UN Blue Helmets in Lebanon

2011-07-27 05:15:19 GMT+7 (ICT)

UNITED NATIONS (BNO NEWS) -- A bomb blast in southern Lebanon on Tuesday has wounded five soldiers from the French contingent patrol serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), officials said.

UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said the blast hit a convoy of the UNIFIL near Sidon, 40 kilometers (25 miles) south of the capital Beirut and 55 kilometers (34 miles) north of the UNIFIL base at Naqoura, near the Lebanese border with Israel.

According to preliminary reports, five soldiers were wounded, and three of them were taken to a hospital. Tuesday's attack is the second assault on UNIFIL peacekeepers since late May when a roadside bomb injured six Italian peacekeepers and two Lebanese civilians.

The United States condemned the attack on the UNIFIL patrol and said it will continue to support the Force's mandate. "We call on the Government of Lebanon to conduct a full investigation into the incident and ensure the perpetrators are swiftly brought to justice," said Heide Bronke Fulton, a spokesperson for the U.S. State Department.

British Foreign Office Minister for the Middle East and North Africa, Alistair Burt, said he is 'deeply concerned' about another attack against a UNIFIL patrol. "It is in the interest of all parties to ensure that UNIFIL is able to fulfil its duties unhindered," Burt said.

UNIFIL has been deployed to the area since 1978 when tension along the Israel-Lebanon border increased. UNIFIL was originally created to confirm Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon, restore international peace and security and assist the Lebanese Government in restoring its effective authority in the area.

Since the 2006 crisis, the Council enhanced the Force to monitor the cessation of hostilities, accompany and support the Lebanese armed forces as they deploy throughout the south of Lebanon and extend its assistance to help ensure humanitarian access to civilian populations and the voluntary and safe return of displaced persons.

As of March 2011, 293 UNIFIL personnel have been killed in Lebanon, including 277 troops, two military observers, eight international civilians and six local civilians. Last August the Security Council extended UNIFIL's mandate for at least one year, until August 31, 2011.

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-- © BNO News All rights reserved 2011-07-27

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