Lebanon is determined to uncover the circumstances that led to the killing of an Irish UN peacekeeper, caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati said during a visit to the headquarters of the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil) on Friday.
Private Sean Rooney, 23, was killed by a bullet to the head, and three others were injured, when their convoy came under fire from unidentified assailants in the southern village of Al Aqbieh on Wednesday as they were travelling to Beirut.
The three other injured soldiers are in hospital but in stable condition, a Unifil representative said.
“The necessary investigations are ongoing to uncover the circumstances of the incident to avoid it from happening again in the future,” Mr Mikati said at the Unifil heaquarters in Naqoura, in southern Lebanon.
“Whoever is found guilty will be punished.”
According to the Irish defence forces, “a convoy of two armoured utility vehicles carrying eight personnel travelling to Beirut came under small arms fire”.
The vehicles were “surrounded by a hostile mob”, Irish Minister for Defence Simon Coveney said.
Unifil said on Thursday that the details of what occurred were “sparse and conflicting” and it was co-ordinating an investigation with the Lebanese Armed Forces to determine exactly what happened.
“The peacekeepers took a wrong turn and they got detached from the rest of the convoy,” Unifil spokesman Andrea Tenenti said. “As the investigation is ongoing we cannot further comment on the circumstances surrounding the incident.”
He said the Lebanese authorities were co-ordinating with Unifil and were taking the issue “very seriously”.
“This is an international crime: we are calling for a swift investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said. “But we do not have a timeline to finalise the report: the priority for now is to gather information”.
Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia and a prominent political party that has a major presence in Al Aqbieh and in many parts of the country, on Thursday denied its involvement in the killing of the soldier.
More than 300 soldiers serving with Unifil have lost their lives since its mandate started in 1978 to maintain peace after the withdrawal of Israeli forces from southern Lebanon.
The last incident was in 2007, when six international peacekeepers were hit by a bomb blast in southern Lebanon.
But this is the first attack of this kind, according to Mr Tenenti. “Unifil usually has a good relationship with the locals despite sporadic incidents: this an unprecedented event,” he said.
Salah Hammouri: Israel deports Palestinian lawyer to France
Israel's interior ministry says it has deported a Palestinian-French human rights lawyer after accusing him of security threats. Salah Hamouri, 37, was escorted onto a flight to France by police early on Sunday morning, the ministry said. A lifelong resident of...
US appeals court says lawsuit against Lebanese bank can proceed
A US court of appeals has ruled that cases against Lebanese commercial banks can be tried outside Lebanon, paving the way for more cases by depositors seeking to unlock their frozen funds. The court decision, issued on Thursday in a case brought by Lebanese depositors...
Submit your event
We will be happy to share your events. Please email us the details and pictures at firstname.lastname@example.org
P.O. Box: 311001 Independance, Ohio, 44131
+1 (216) 269 3272