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Suspects identified in death of Irish peacekeeper

According to a judicial source, the initial results of the investigation "indicate that the incident was premeditated and that the patrol was being watched and pursued by a car carrying armed men."

Suspects identified in death of Irish peacekeeper

Irish UNIFIL soldiers attend the repatriation ceremony of the body of Irish soldier Sean Rooney at Beirut airport on Dec. 18, 2022. (Credit: Anwar Amiro/AFP)

Lebanese security services have identified suspects in an attack on UN soldiers that left one peacekeeper dead, a judicial source told AFP on Thursday, adding that the soldiers were chased by gunmen.

On Dec. 14, a vehicle of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was attacked in a village in southern Lebanon where the pro-Iranian Hezbollah has a strong presence. Three other Irish soldiers were injured in the attack.

"The investigation has been able to identify the suspects, but so far none of them have been arrested and the security services are still looking for them," said the judicial source.

According to the same source, "the patrol was shot at by at least two people on its arrival" in the village of Al-Aqbiya. The initial results of the investigation "indicate that the incident was premeditated and that the patrol was being watched and pursued by a car carrying armed men."

"It was harassed and intercepted in two places before arriving at the scene of the incident," added the judicial source.

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Irish UNIFIL peacekeeper’s killing, a message from Hezbollah?

UNIFIL, composed of some 10,000 peacekeepers, has been deployed since 1978 to act as a buffer between Lebanon and Israel, two neighboring countries that remain technically in a state of war.

Incidents sometimes occur between its patrols and supporters of Hezbollah, which dominates Lebanese political life and has a large arsenal. 

The suspects were identified through interviews with civilian witnesses, according to the same source, which mentioned "difficulties related to the investigation," without adding details.

UNIFIL called on Beirut to quickly investigate the attack and bring those responsible to justice. UNIFIL said it had launched an investigation into the incident, which occurred outside its area of operations in southern Lebanon.

The Irish Armed Forces said the peacekeepers were heading towards Beirut when they were "fired upon by small arms fire." According to a Lebanese judicial source, seven bullets pierced the vehicle, one of which killed the driver. The other three other soldiers were injured when the vehicle hit a pylon.

Hezbollah distanced itself from the attack and was quick to offer its condolences to the UNIFIL troops.

Among the three survivors, one peacekeeper who was seriously injured was repatriated on Wednesday. 

Lebanese security services have identified suspects in an attack on UN soldiers that left one peacekeeper dead, a judicial source told AFP on Thursday, adding that the soldiers were chased by gunmen.On Dec. 14, a vehicle of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was attacked in a village in southern Lebanon where the pro-Iranian Hezbollah has a strong presence. Three other Irish...