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Three UN military observers, Lebanese interpreter injured in explosion while patrolling southern border

A man visits the United Nations headquarters as Security Council delegates postponed a vote for another day on a proposal to demand that Israel and Hamas allow aid access to the Gaza Strip by land, sea and air and implement UN surveillance. humanitarian aid, at the UN headquarters in New York, United States, December 20, 2023.

Eduardo Munoz | Reuters

Three United Nations military observers and a Lebanese interpreter were injured Saturday while patrolling the southern Lebanese border after a shell exploded near them, the UN peacekeeping mission said. the UN in Lebanon.

The military observers are part of the United Nations overseeing the truce, which supports the United Nations peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon, UNIFIL. UNIFIL spokesperson Andrea Tenenti told The Associated Press that the four wounded were in stable condition.

Tenenti said UNIFIL had informed all warring parties of their patrols as usual and that the observers’ vehicle had clear UN markings. The three military observers, from Chile, Australia and Norway, were unarmed, he said.

The explosion came as clashes between the Israeli army and Hezbollah militants have intensified in recent weeks. The two sides have exchanged fire since the start of the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza, sparking concerns that near-daily clashes along the border could escalate into a full-scale war.

Local Lebanese media, citing security officials, said an Israeli drone strike targeted the observers in the southern village of Wadi Katmoun, near the border town of Rmeich.

The Israeli military said on social media platform »

Tenenti said UNIFIL was “investigating the origin of the explosion” but that it was difficult to immediately send investigators to the ground due to the ongoing exchange of fire.

“The targeting of peacekeepers is unacceptable,” Tenenti told The Associated Press. “We reiterate our call to all stakeholders to cease the current violent exchanges of fire before more people are needlessly injured.”

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikat condemned the incident in a statement.

UNIFIL was established to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after the 1978 Israeli invasion. The UN expanded its mission after the 2006 war between Israel and Hezbollah, allowing peacekeepers to deploy along the Israeli border to help the Lebanese army expand its authority in the south of the country for the first time in decades.

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