Blast wounds French UN peacekeepers in South Lebanon

TYRE, Lebanon — A bomb exploded near a United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping patrol on Friday, wounding five French soldiers in southern Lebanon, a witness and security sources said.

The blast, which hit a jeep carrying the French peacekeepers on the outskirts of the city of Tyre, was the third attack on the UNIFIL forces deployed to keep the peace along Lebanon's southern frontier with Israel.

"I can confirm that a UNIFIL vehicle was hit by an explosion in Tyre," UNIFIL spokesman Andrea Tenenti said.

A Reuters reporter saw six wounded people at the scene minutes after the explosion. Security sources said five of them were French UNIFIL personnel, and that two passersby had also been wounded. Most of the injuries were light but medical sources said one of the UNIFIL soldiers was badly wounded.

Friday's attack followed two roadside bombings targeting UNIFIL forces near the city of Sidon earlier this year. In May six Italian peacekeepers were wounded, prompting Italy to look into reducing its peacekeeping contribution in Lebanon.

Two months later six French soldiers were wounded in another attack.

UNIFIL has about 12,000 troops and naval personnel in Lebanon after its expansion under UN Security Council Resolution 1701 that halted the 2006 Israel-Hezbollah war in southern Lebanon.

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