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U.N. convoy in Lebanon hit by bomb

At least one Italian soldier was killed in an attack on a U.N. convoy that happened on the U.N.'s annual Peacekeepers' Day.

A U.N. convoy in southern Lebanon was hit by a bomb Friday, wounding seven people and killing at least one Italian soldier.

Four other Italian soldiers were wounded, as well as three Lebanese civilians, a Lebanese official told Deutsche-Presse Agentur. One of the soldiers is gravely wounded, an Italian defense ministry spokesman told Agence France-Presse.

The explosion happened on the U.N.'s International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers, held every May 29 to commemorate peacekeepers killed in missions around the world. Earlier today U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon paid tribute to the 173 peacekeepers who died in 2010 due to natural disasters, violence, accidents and diseases.

The bomb in southern Lebanon reportedly targeted four trucks that belonged to the Italian forces and were traveling near the port city of Sidon. The Italians are part of the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (Unifil), which is tasked with keeping peace in the border region between Lebanon and Israel.

Reuters reports that the attack occurred on a busy main highway leading to Sidon, and was aimed at a logistics convoy. A Lebanese officer told DPA, the German press agency, that the roadside bomb had been detonated by remote control when the U.N. convoy passed by.

Unifil was formed in 1978 after Israeli troops entered southern Lebanon and began a 22-year occupation, the BBC reports.

It was expanded under a U.N. Security Council resolution that halted the 2006 war between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. Unifil currently has about 12,000 troops stationed in the south of Lebanon, with Italy holding the largest contingent.

The last attack on Unifil was in January 2008 when a roadside bomb hit a U.N. vehicle south of Beirut, wounding two peacekeepers. In June 2007, six Spanish peacekeepers died when a bomb hit their armored personnel carrier.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/lebanon/110527/lebanon-un-convoy-bomb-explosion-italian-soldiers