An Irish member of the UN peacekeeping force in south Lebanon was killed and three were wounded after their convoy came under fire, UN and Irish sources said Thursday.
“A convoy of two armoured utility vehicles carrying eight personnel travelling to Beirut came under small arms fire” late Wednesday, the Irish military said.
“Four personnel were taken to Raee Hospital, near Sidon as a result of the (2115 GMT) incident,” the military said.
“One soldier was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital and another has undergone surgery and is in a serious condition. The other two soldiers are being treated for minor injuries.”
UN peacekeeping force UNIFIL said the “incident” happened near the village of Al-Aqbiya, just outside the force’s area of operations in a strip along Lebanon’s southern border with Israel.
It said it had opened an investigation.
Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney expressed “profound sadness and a deep sense of shock” over the peacekeeper’s death.
The UN force has been present in south Lebanon since 1978 when they first deployed after Israel occupied a border strip on the Lebanese side.
Now boasting nearly 10,000 troops, the UN force acts as a buffer between Israel and Lebanon, which remain technically at war.
Israel withdrew from south Lebanon in 2000 but fought a devastating 2006 war with Lebanese militant group Hezbollah and its allies.
Over the years there have been a number of incidents between Hezbollah supporters and the UN force in border areas loyal to the Iran-backed group.