BEIRUT: Hezbollah condemned Friday's attack on a French UNIFIL patrol near the southern city of Tyre which left five French peacekeepers and one Lebanese civilian wounded.
“Hezbollah condemns the attack ... and considers it to be targeted at Lebanon's security and the stability of the south specifically. [The party] calls on Lebanese security services to work hard and put an end to these attacks,” the party’s press office said in a statement.
A roadside bomb ripped through a four-wheel drive vehicle belonging to the French contingent serving with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon in Bourj al-Shemali, near Tyre, around 10 a.m. Friday.
It was the third roadside bomb targeting a UNIFIL convoy this year. Six Italian peacekeepers were wounded in May, while in July five French soldiers were wounded in another blast. Both occurred in Sidon, and no group has ever claimed responsibility for either attack.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Forces attributed the attack to the presence of what they described as “illegal militant organizations,” a clear reference to Hezbollah.
“Investigation into the incident should take into consideration the security zones and militant organizations permitted to exist by the government under the slogan of ‘army, people, the resistance,’” an LF statement said.
It added that the first step toward preventing similar security incidents is the dissolution of illegal armed organizations which operate outside the jurisdiction of the state.
Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun also condemned the attack, saying that UNIFIL was entrusted with peacekeeping in south Lebanon.
“[UNIFIL] exists because all Lebanese agree on them and it is entrusted with peacekeeping and is not an armed force on our land,” Aoun said.
“If someone believes that these forces should leave Lebanon, then they have to say it openly and frankly or protest publicly in front of the government, otherwise this act is a terrorist act and we condemn it,” he added.