Villagers disarm UN patrol in south Lebanon: army

3rd July 2010, Comments 0 comments

Villagers disarmed a French patrol of UN peacekeepers Saturday and attacked them with sticks, rocks and eggs in south Lebanon, in the latest in a string of such incidents, the Lebanese army said.

"Residents of the village of Tuline as well as some villagers from nearby Kabrikha attacked a patrol with sticks and threw stones and eggs," a military spokesman told AFP.

"The citizens disarmed the soldiers and briefly took control of their vehicle before the army intervened and made them move away from the patrol," the spokesman said.

"The arms were returned to UNIFIL and the incident is closed," he said, referring to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon which patrols the border region with Israel.

He said the peacekeepers had earlier arrested a young man in Kabrikha who opposed their presence in his village. In Tuline, local residents attacked the patrol, demanding the man be released, the spokesman and witnesses said.

UNIFIL was unavailable on Saturday to comment on the incident.

Hezbollah has urged the peacekeepers in south Lebanon, a stronghold of the Shiite militant movement, to stick to their mandate, following a wave of protests by villagers.

"UNIFIL should always carry out its role... in a way so as not to arouse mistrust and worry of citizens as was the case during the latest exercises," Hezbollah's number two, Naim Kassem, said in a newspaper interview.

The protests came during a maximum deployment exercise last Tuesday by the UN force charged with overseeing a ceasefire between Israel and Hezbollah, which fought a devastating month-long war in 2006.

In one incident, protesters pelted stones at UNIFIL vehicles, slightly injuring a peacekeeper.

Kassem said the peacekeepers "must stick to their mission as prescribed by (UN Security Council) Resolution 1701. Then there will be a return to normal," said the Hezbollah official.

Resolution 1701, which ended the Hezbollah-Israel war in 2006, expanded the mandate of UNIFIL troops, which was originally formed in 1978 after the outbreak of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war.

© 2010 AFP

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