Lebanese security forces are still looking to locate six people connected to an incident in December that caused the death of an Irish peacekeeper in Lebanon.
These six individuals, alongside one more person, have been charged by a military court for peacekeeper’s Pvt. Sean Rooney’s death in Lebanon. The vehicle he was driving was shot at, making it the first lethal attack on UN peacekeepers in Lebanon since 2015.
The individual accused of murder has been arrested, while the remaining six face charges such as attempted murder and damaging a vehicle. The inquiry is being managed by military investigative judge Fadi Sawan, who is well-known for prosecuting terrorism cases.
The Lebanese military is leading the pursuit of the six individuals, and the attack took place in the village of Al Aqbiya, where Hezbollah has significant influence. The only one of the seven arrested so far is said to be a supporter of Hezbollah but not an official member. In a statement issued following the incident, 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. While Hezbollah denied involvement in the soldier’s murder they also mentioned that the killing was “unintended,” implying that Hezbollah likely had some kind of involvement. The incident involving the UN peacekeepers occurred in the village of Al Aqbieh, located in southern Lebanon, which is controlled by Hezbollah. While the UN vehicle is said to have strayed unintentionally into the village, why the soldiers came under attack remains unclear.
The UNIFIL convoy had been on its way to Beirut before the incident, and there are more than 11,000 UN peacekeeper currently stationed in Lebanon. 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.
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