The Security Council, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) have strongly condemned yesterday’s bomb attack in southern Lebanon that killed six UN peacekeepers and seriously wounded two others.
The peacekeepers from Spain and Colombia were on a patrol about 5:30 yesterday afternoon near the town of Khiyam, located in the eastern sector of UNIFIL’s area of operation, when the explosion occurred.
The mission has begun an investigation to determine exactly what happened, but initial findings indicate that a car bomb was detonated by remote control.
Condemning the attack “in the strongest terms,” the Council today reaffirmed its complete support of the Force in carrying out its mandate to help implement the UN resolution ending last year’s war between the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) and Hizbollah.
Council members appealed to all sides in Lebanon “to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of the UNIFIL and other United Nations personnel,” Ambassador Johan Verbeke of Belgium, which holds the rotating Council presidency, said in a statement.
He added that this included “avoiding any course of action which endangers United Nations personnel and… ensuring UNIFIL is accorded full freedom of movement throughout its area of operations.”
The presidential statement also noted that the Lebanese Government has condemned the bombing and welcomed the Government’s commitment to bring the perpetrators of the attack to justice.
In a statement issued by his spokesperson in Paris, where the Secretary-General is travelling, Mr. Ban said he was deeply saddened by the attack and called for a full investigation “into this very disturbing incident.”
Mr. Ban “notes the fragility of the situation in Lebanon and reiterates the importance of UNIFIL’s mandate for stability in the area,” the statement added, describing the targeting of mission members as “in fact an attempt to undermine peace and security in the region and in particular the Lebanese and international efforts to stabilize the situation in southern Lebanon.”
UNIFIL Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Claudio Graziano called the bombing “the most serious incident since the end of the war last summer” and joined others in extending condolences to the families of the victims. He stressed that all UNIFIL troops remained committed to carrying out their mission.
A commemoration ceremony for the peacekeepers took place today at Camp Cervantes, the headquarters of UNIFIL’s Sector East, and was attended by representatives of UNIFIL, Spain, Colombia and Lebanon. The six troops were also posthumously awarded the Lebanese Army’s War Medal, Military Valour Medal and the Medal for Battle Wounds.