Five French UNIFIL Troops Hurt in Sidon Blastإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Five French soldiers serving with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) were wounded on Tuesday, one seriously, in a roadside bomb attack in the southern city of Sidon, a UNIFIL spokesman told Agence France Presse.
"According to preliminary reports, at around 6:00 pm today (1500 GMT) an explosion targeted a UNIFIL convoy along the highway at Sidon," said UNIFIL spokesman Neeraj Singh.
"Five UNIFIL peacekeepers were injured in the explosion. Three of the injured were transported to hospital for treatment."
For its part, state-run National News Agency said the explosion occurred near the Siniq Bridge at Sidon’s southern entrance.
One of the soldiers taken to hospital was in serious condition with burns to his face and shrapnel in one eye, an official at Hammoud Hospital in Sidon told AFP.
The second soldier was slightly wounded in his left eye, the official added, asking not to be named. The third soldier was released and sent back to base, he said.
An army spokesman told AFP the bomb was placed on the side of the road and was triggered as the vehicle -- a troop carrier -- drove by.
The front of the vehicle was badly damaged and several parts were blown 20 to 30 meters by the force of the blast.
Several French peacekeepers could be seen covered in dust near the site of the explosion.
UNIFIL forensic experts rushed to the scene along with Lebanese troops, who cordoned off the area and began gathering evidence.
"We are working in coordination with the Lebanese army to determine the circumstances of the incident," Singh said.
Prime Minister Najib Miqati, who is vacationing in France, telephoned Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi, asking them to open an immediate probe into the bombing, his office said.
Miqati also called French Ambassador to Lebanon Denis Pietton to condemn the attack.
On May 27 six Italian peacekeepers were wounded -- two of them seriously -- along with two civilians in a similar roadside bomb explosion near Sidon.
The UNIFIL, a multinational force which currently has 12,000 troops stationed in south Lebanon, was initially set up to monitor Lebanon's border with Israel.
It was expanded after a devastating 2006 war between the Jewish state and Hizbullah.
The force has been the target of three other unclaimed attacks, the latest in January 2008 when two Irish officers were wounded by a roadside bomb.
In the deadliest incident, three Spanish and three Colombian peacekeepers were killed in June of 2007 when a booby-trapped car exploded as their patrol vehicle drove by.