Irish UN peacekeeper killed in southern Lebanon convoy ambush, three others injured

Unknown assailants opened fire on a convoy in southern Lebanon, killing one Irish UN peacekeeper and injuring three others, according to Irish and Lebanese military sources on Thursday. Eight Irish United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping officials were in two armoured vehicles when they were shot upon while they were travelling from the village of Al-Aqbiya north toward Beirut on Tuesday night, according to a statement from the Irish Defence Forces.

One of the three injured troops, according to the Irish military, is in critical condition. The perpetrators were not named in the statement. One peacekeeper’s death and three injuries were verified by UNIFIL, but no other information was provided.

“Our thoughts are also with the local civilians who may have been injured or frightened during the incident,” UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti said, adding that “details are sparse and conflicting.” Tenenti added that UNIFIL is coordinating with the military and trying to “determine exactly what happened.”

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The armoured truck carrying the peacekeepers had turned over while attempting to flee the site when it was fired upon, according to a person involved with the inquiry who spoke to the Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because they were not permitted to talk publicly about the case.

The act was condemned by Lebanon’s Foreign Ministry, and a statement from the office of interim Prime Minister Najib Mikati asked for an inquiry.

Residents of southern Lebanon often fight with UNIFIL soldiers. Irish peacekeepers were attacked in January in the southern village of Bint Jbeil by unidentified perpetrators, who also vandalised their cars and stole their belongings. The UN refuted the allegations made by the locals that they had taken photos of private properties.

(With inputs from agencies)

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