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Lebanon: UN mission investigates rocket attack in south

UNIFIL armoured vehicles pass through a Lebanese Armed Forces checkpoint near Ghanduriya.
UNIFIL armoured vehicles pass through a Lebanese Armed Forces checkpoint near Ghanduriya.

Lebanon: UN mission investigates rocket attack in south

The United Nations peacekeeping force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is investigating last night’s firing of a rocket that has damaged a home and seriously injured a woman in the country’s south.

About 11 p.m. UNIFIL radars detected the firing of a rocket from Qaissiyeh valley, with the rocket striking a private home in the village of Houla, the mission reported in a press statement issued today.

UNIFIL said it was investigating the incident on the ground “to determine the facts and circumstances of the incident as well as to locate the launching site of the rocket fire.”

Major-General Alberto Asarta Cuevas, the mission’s Force Commander, strongly condemned the attack and voiced concern about the recent wave of incidents in southern Lebanon.

“This is the third incident involving serious security breaches south of the Litani river in a period of two weeks,” he said. “These instances show that despite all our efforts there continue to be weapons and hostile armed elements ready to use them within our area of operations.”

He reiterated that the mission will work closely with the Lebanese military to try to ensure there are no other armed personnel, assets or weapons between the Litani river and the Blue Line.

“There is clearly a need for further enhancing security control in the area.”

The firing of a rocket occurred two days after a bomb exploded as a UNIFIL vehicle travelled through the port city of Tyre, injuring five peacekeepers and two civilians.

On Saturday, General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser added his voice to that of Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Security Council members and Major-General Asarta Cuevas in condemning the attack.

In a statement issued by his spokesperson Mr. Al-Nasser welcomed Lebanon’s pledge to bring the attack’s perpetrators to justice.

“President Al-Nasser calls upon all parties to observe the safety and security of UNIFIL peacekeepers and other UN personnel in accordance with international law,” the statement noted. “He attaches great importance to the fulfilment of UNIFIL’s mandate.”

The mission, which has been in operation since 1978, currently has just over 12,000 peacekeepers from 35 countries.

Meanwhile, Mr. Ban, who has been on an official visit to Doha, Qatar, for the UN Alliance of Civilizations forum, met on the sidelines yesterday with Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansoor.

Mr. Ban urged Mr. Mansoor to launch a thorough and immediate investigation into Friday’s attack and to bring the perpetrators to justice.