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LEBANON: Casualties reported in explosion targeting U.N. convoy

May 27, 2011 |  8:48 am

Reports have surfaced about casualties in an explosion targeting a convoy of U.N. peacekeepers as it traveled near the city of Sidon in southern Lebanon on Friday afternoon.

Samir Ghattas, a spokesman for the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), told Babylon & Beyond that a blast appeared to have targeted the convoy on a highway. He said he didn't have information on the number of reported casualties.

"Preliminary reports indicate there was an explosion against a UNIFIL logistics convoy along the main highway ... ," Ghattas said. "There are reports about casualties among UNIFIL peacekeepers, but we can't confirm numbers and our teams are on the way to the location now."

Contradictory media reports about the number of casualties emerged after the incident. Lebanese media reports said Italy's Corriere della Sera newspaper reported that two Italian U.N. peacekeepers had died in the blast. 

Pan-Arab news channel Al Jazeera reported that one Italian peacekeeper had been killed in the explosion. Other media reports said injuries had resulted from the blast, which apparently occurred on the same day that UNIFIL marked the International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, which  honors colleagues who died while doing their duty.

UNIFIL is tasked with keeping peace along Lebanon's southern border with Israel.

Friday's explosion was not the first time the force has come under attack.

A similar attack occurred in January 2008 near Beirut when a roadside bomb hit a U.N. vehicle, injuring two peacekeepers.

In 2007, six Spanish peacekeepers were killed when a bomb hit their armored vehicle near the Israeli border.

--Alexandra Sandels in Beirut


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