UN peacekeepers targeted in Lebanon bombing, 5 hurt
A bomb struck a UN peacekeeping patrol in the Lebanese coastal town of Tyre on Friday, wounding five French soldiers, one of them severely, and two civilians, a security official and the army said.world Updated: Dec 10, 2011 00:58 IST
A bomb struck a UN peacekeeping patrol in the Lebanese coastal town of Tyre on Friday, wounding five French soldiers, one of them severely, and two civilians, a security official and the army said.
The official, who requested anonymity, said the bomb was hidden under dirt on the side of the road and detonated as the soldiers drove through an intersection on the town's southern outskirts.
Andrea Tenenti, spokesman for the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil), said that the five wounded soldiers were treated at the scene and later taken to hospital.
The French military said four sufferred very slight wounds while the fifth was more seriously injured in the face.
"A Unifil forensics team is at the site (of the blast) and working in cooperation with their Lebanese counterparts to determine the facts and circumstances," Tenenti said.
An AFP correspondent in Tyre saw three peacekeepers - a woman and two men - standing by their badly damaged white vehicle with bandages on their heads.
The army said the two civilians wounded were passers-by.
The office of Lebanese President Michel Sleiman issued a statement denouncing the attack, which he said was aimed at prompting France to pull its troops from the country.
"This terrorist attack is aimed at pressuring these troops to leave Lebanon and to pave the way for (further) terrorists acts," he said.
"Lebanon's security agencies will do everything to find and arrest those responsible for the explosion," he added.
Prime Minister Najib Mikati also condemned the attack as did French foreign minister Alain Juppe who vowed his country would not be intimidated. "I condemn in the strongest terms the cowardly attack that was carried out against Unifil this morning, wounding five French peacekeepers," Juppe said in a statement.
France is "determined to continue its involvement with Unifil (and) will not be intimidated by such vile acts," he added.
MP Marwan Hamadeh, a leading member of the Western-backed opposition in Lebanon, blamed Damascus for Friday's attack, saying it was orchestrated with the help of its ally Hezbollah.