By UN News
A UN peacekeeper from Ireland serving with the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) has been shot and killed, reportedly while on patrol, and three other ‘blue helmets’ have been injured during the incident, the mission said in a statement on Thursday.
UNIFIL said the incident took place in Al-Aqbieh, “just outside” the mission’s area of operations in south Lebanon.
The mission has been in place since 1978, shortly after Israel withdrew from Lebanon, and monitors the cessation of hostilities along the Lebanon-Israel border, following the conflict of 2006, and ensures humanitarian access to reach civilians in need.
The mission offered its deepest condolences to the friends, family, and colleagues of the peacekeeper who died, and said all were hopeful “for a full and fast recovery for those injured.”
Our thoughts are also with the local civilians who may have been injured or frightened in the incident”, the statement continued. “At the moment, details are sparse and conflicting.”
The mission said it had begun coordinating with the Lebanese Armed Forces over the matter, and launched an immediate investigation.
According to news reports, and details released by Irish Government ministers, a hostile crowd surrounded the armoured vehicle in which the peacekeepers had been travelling, on their way to the Lebanese capital, Beirut.
Another Irish member of the contingent who was injured, is in critical condition.
The vehicle which was surrounded, had inadvertently become separated from another travelling in the convoy, reports said.
The UN Secretary-General António Guterres also expressed his deep sadness at the peacekeeper’s death, in a statement issued by his Spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the family of the peacekeeper who died and to the people and the Government of Ireland.
‘Need for accountability’: UN chief
“He wishes a full and fast recovery for those injured. He urges a swift investigation by relevant authorities to determine the facts related to the incident and the need for accountability.”
Mr. Guterres said he had the deepest appreciation for all those serving with UNIFIL, and recalled “the importance of ensuring their safety and security and UNIFIL’s freedom of movement.”
The UN Special Coordinator, Joanna Wronecka, tweeted her condolences, and said that “a quick and thorough investigation to determine the facts of this tragic incident is crucial.”