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Lebanon: Irish soldier killed on UN peacekeeping mission

A convoy of UNIFIL troops was travelling to Beirut when they came under small arms fire, Ireland’s defence forces said
A UN peacekeeper (UNIFIL) vehicle drives near the Lebanese-Israeli border, southern Lebanon (Reuters/File Photo)
A UN peacekeeper (UNIFIL) vehicle drives near the Lebanese-Israeli border, southern Lebanon (Reuters/File Photo)

An Irish soldier was killed while on a United Nations peacekeeping mission in Lebanon on Wednesday and three others were wounded after coming under fire. 

A convoy of two armoured vehicles carrying eight personnel from the south of Lebanon to Beirut came under small arms fire, Ireland’s defence forces have said in a statement on Twitter

"It is with deep regret that Óglaigh na hÉireann [the Irish defence forces] can confirm the death of one of our peacekeepers in a serious incident in Lebanon last night," the defence forces said, adding that a full investigation would commence.

Another Irish soldier is in a serious condition and two other soldiers are being treated for minor injuries, the statement added. So far no group has taken responsibility.

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The Irish defence minister, Simon Coveney, who is in New York for a UN Security Council meeting, said in a statement: "Deeply saddened & shocked at the death of a young man serving #Ireland with #UN overseas. My deepest condolences to his family for their heartbreaking loss.

"We will do everything possible to support all impacted by this incident as full investigation begins."

The soldier was part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, or Unifil, a peacekeeping mission established in 1978 by UN Security Council Resolution 425. 

In a statement following the incident, Unifil said that "at the moment, details are sparse and conflicting" adding that: "We are coordinating with the Lebanese Armed Forces, and have launched an investigation to determine exactly what happened."

Unifil's original purpose was to oversee the Israeli withdrawal from Lebanon during the Lebanese civil war that ended in 1990.

However, it continues to be deployed as Lebanon and Israel remain enemy states and Beirut insists that the Israelis are still occupying some Lebanese territory.

Unifil is made up of over 10,000 personnel from a number of countries around the world, led by Indonesia, India, and Italy.

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