Lebanon accident kills French peacekeeper, injures two

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One French UN peacekeeper was killed and two others injured in a road accident in southern Lebanon on Saturday, officials said.

"One UNIFIL (United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon) peacekeeper died and two other soldiers were injured in a road traffic accident involving an armoured personnel carrier on a routine patrol this morning," UNIFIL spokesman Naresh Bhatt said.

He said that the accident occured near Qalaway, a village east of the southern port city of Tyre, and that no other vehicle was involved.

The injured were immediately evacuated for medical treatment and their condition was "stable," Bhatt added.

He refused to give the nationalities of the dead or injured, and said that the circumstances of the accident were under investigation.

But a Lebanese security official said that the men were from UNIFIL's French contingent, and that their vehicle had overturned.

UNIFIL has some 13,000 troops from various countries stationed in southern Lebanon. France has the second largest contingent after Italy.

The force, which was set up in 1978 to monitor the border between Israel and southern Lebanon, was considerably beefed up in the wake of the devastating 2006 war between the Shiite militant group Hezbollah and Israel.

Eleven French UNIFIL soldiers were injured last month when a rocket accidentally exploded inside their camp.

The 1,500-strong French battalion serving with UNIFIL is based in the village of Tiri, some eight kilometres (five miles) from the Israeli border.

© 2010 AFP

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