Five United Nations peacekeepers serving in Lebanon have been injured after an explosion targeted at their vehicle in the country’s south earlier today – the third such attack this year.
A vehicle with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) was travelling on the southern outskirts of the port city of Tyre when it was directly targeted, according to a press statement released by the mission.
The injured peacekeepers were treated at the scene and later evacuated for further medical care.
UNIFIL said its forensics and investigation teams are currently working with their Lebanese military counterparts to probe the facts and circumstances surrounding the attack.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the Security Council and the mission’s Force Commander, Major-General Albert Asarta Cuevas, strongly condemned the attack, which follows the targeting of two UNIFIL logistics convoys by roadside bombs in May and July.
“This attack on UNIFIL, the third since May 2011, is deeply disturbing,” said a statement issued by Mr. Ban’s spokesperson. “The security and safety of all United Nations personnel in Lebanon is of paramount importance.”
The Secretary-General expects that the perpetrators will be swiftly identified and brought to justice, the statement added.
“This vile and despicable act not only aims to cause harm to the peacekeepers, but also to undermine the stability and peace that have been prevailing in the south,” said Major-General Asarta Cuevas, who added that the attack would not deter UNIFIL from carrying out its mandate.
In a statement issued to the press, the members of the Security Council “condemned all attempts to threaten the security and stability of Lebanon, and reaffirmed their determination to ensure that no such acts of intimidation will prevent UNIFIL from implementing its mandate.”
The 15-member body called on all parties to abide scrupulously by their obligation to respect the safety of UNIFIL and other UN personnel, and to ensure that the freedom of movement of the mission is fully respected.
The mission, which has been operating since 1978, currently has just over 12,000 peacekeepers from 35 countries deployed in Lebanon.