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Explosion Targets UN Peacekeepers in Lebanon


Two U.N. peacekeepers were slightly wounded by a roadside explosion targeting their vehicle which was traveling along Lebanon's coastal highway between the port city of Sidon and Beirut. Edward Yeranian reports for VOA from Lebanon's capital.

An explosive device, placed alongside Lebanon's coastal highway in the area of Rmeileh, south of Beirut, damaged a vehicle carrying Irish peacekeepers, slightly wounding two men who were taken to a local hospital.

It was the first such attack against U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon in seven months. Three Spanish peacekeepers and three Colombian counterparts were killed in a car bombing on June 24.

The political advisor to the U.N. peacekeeping force, UNIFIL, said an inquiry is being conducted "in cooperation with Lebanese authorities," to determine who was behind the explosion.

Lebanon's Internal Security Forces told the French Press Agency that they are unsure about the "nature of the explosive device used in the bombing."

The United Nations has 13,000 peacekeepers in Lebanon, after its force was beefed up following the war between Israel and Hezbollah fighters in the summer of 2006.

Lebanon's former Acting Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat argues that today's explosion is probably an attempt to sabotage recent efforts by the Arab League to bring an end to Lebanon's 13-month-old political crisis. The Arab League is trying to get bickering politicians to agree to elect a new president:

He says the explosion today is one of three security-related events, including an audio tape by Palestinian militant Chaker al- Abssi, threatening attacks against the Lebanese army, and the launch of Katyousha rockets against Israel. He says it is an attempt to sabotage the growing consensus among Lebanese political leaders to go along with the Arab League effort to elect a new president.

Lebanon has been without a president since November 24, when the term of the pro-Syrian Emile Lahoud expired.

The pro-Syrian Hezbollah and Christian ally Michel Aoun have been insisting on a "package-deal" that will distribute government posts, before electing a new president.