Explosion kills four UN peacekeepers

Four Spanish UN peacekeepers were killed today and four others wounded in an explosion targeting UN troops in southern Lebanon.

Four Spanish UN peacekeepers were killed today and four others wounded in an explosion targeting UN troops in southern Lebanon.

The UN Interim Force in Lebanon, known as UNIFIL, confirmed the explosion and said there were casualties without giving a specific number or confirming if its peacekeepers were killed.

UNIFIL said it suspected that the blast was caused by an explosive device, according to a statement.

In Madrid, the Spanish Defence Ministry confirmed at least two Spanish peacekeepers were killed and five injured. UNIFIL medical teams were working in the area, and they had no additional information, a ministry spokesman said.

The senior Lebanese official in Beirut said a mine may have caused the explosion.

But another security official based in southern Lebanon said the explosion was caused by a bomb that was placed on the side of the main road between the towns of Marjayoun and Khiam, about four miles north of the Israeli border town of Metulla.

White smoke billowed from the armoured personnel carrier. Fire engines rushed to the area to put out the flames.

Witnesses reported hearing another explosion shortly afterward but it was believed to be either ammunition or the vehicle’s fuel tank, which blew up.

Today’s explosion was the first time that UNIFIL has come under attack since it was reinforced last summer after the war between Hezbollah guerrillas and Israeli forces in Lebanon.

The 13,000-member UN force from 30 countries along with 15,000 Lebanese troops patrols a zone along Lebanese-Israeli border.

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