Najib Mikati assures justice for Irish UN peacekeeper killed in Lebanon

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said during a visit to Unifil headquarters on Friday that Lebanon is determined to discover the factors that resulted in the death of an Irish peacekeeper.

Five Irish peacekeepers were wounded, one fatally, when their vehicle was ambushed outside the southern village of Al Aqbieh on Wednesday on the way to Beirut.

An Unifil representative said that three other wounded soldiers are being treated at the hospital, but are in stable condition.

Unifil headquarters in Naqoura, southern Lebanon, Senior Lieutenant General Jean Georges Mikati said that the necessary investigations are being carried out to discover how the incident occurred so as to avoid a repeat of the event in the future.

Unifil said on Thursday that the details of what occurred were “sparse and conflicting” and that it was co-ordinating an investigation with the Lebanese Armed Forces to determine what happened.

A Unifil spokesman, Andrea Tenenti, said peacekeepers apparently took a wrong turn and became separated from the rest of the peacekeeping convoy. Because the investigation is still ongoing, we cannot provide any more details about the incident.

The Lebanese authorities are co-ordinating with Unifil and taking the issue ‘very seriously,’ he said.

Answering questions on the long-delayed inquiry report on the Kashmir issue, the envoy said, “We are calling for a swift investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. However, we don’t have a time frame to finish the report: collecting information is our first priority.”

In a statement issued Thursday, Hezbollah, an Iran-backed militia and a prominent political party that has a major presence in Al Aqbieh and across the country, denied involvement in the soldier’s murder.

More than 300 Unifil soldiers have been killed since 1978, when Unifil was created to maintain peace after Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon.

Six international peacekeepers were wounded in a bomb blast in southern Lebanon in 2007.


Image Credit: AFP