Tension prevailed across southern Lebanon on Sunday in the wake of a stoning attack by followers of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah that left 14 UN peacekeepers injured.
Problems started on Saturday afternoon when a UN Interim Force in Southern Lebanon (UNIFIL) team, accompanied by a Lebanese army patrol, tried to enter the village of Khirbit Selim to search a house for a suspected ammunition depot, a villager who requested anonymity said.
As the joint force tried to enter the village, some 100 villagers believed to be loyal to Hezbollah started to throw stones, slightly injuring 14 peacekeepers — three Italians and 11 French, the villager told a reporter from the German Press Agency DPA.
The Voice of Lebanon radio broadcaster reported that Khirbit Selim residents smashed the windows of two UN vehicles as the French peacekeepers tried to inspect the house.
Lebanon’s official National News Agency also reported that residents blocked main roads with burning tires after engaging in fistfights with the peacekeepers and throwing stones at them to protest the patrol’s attempt to raid the house.
The house was near the site last Tuesday’s explosion of a suspected Hezbollah weapons storage facility.
The UN and the Lebanese army have launched an investigation into the explosion. Hezbollah has so far refused comment on the incident.
Shiite clergy loyal to Hezbollah in Tyre issued a press statement strongly denouncing the UNIFIL mission in Lebanon and accusing the international force’s presence in south Lebanon of working for “Israel’s benefit and not Lebanon’s.”
The Lebanese army issued a statement on Sunday expressing regret for Saturday’s incident and reaffirmed its commitment to “work closely with UNIFIL on implementing UNSC 1701,” the UN Resolution that ended a 2006 war between Hezbollah and Israel in Lebanon.
A Lebanese security source described the attack by residents as “very serious,” as it is considered an attempt to stop an investigation near the site of a recent explosion.
Yasmina Bouziane, UNIFIL spokeswoman, told DPA that peacekeepers had to fire warning shots to clear the way.
Bouziane said the incident took place only 1km from the blast site. She said tensions were easing on Sunday, but that the investigation was ongoing.
The number of UN peacekeepers in Lebanon was boosted to 13,300 members after the 2006 war. Almost 1,200 people, mostly Lebanese civilians, died in the war.
Relations between UN forces and Hezbollah and its allies have been largely good since the deployment of UNIFIL.
However, Hezbollah has refused to hand over its weapons, claiming that its arsenal is needed to protect Lebanon from any Israeli attack.
‘CONFESSED’: A court in Beijing said that former CCP member Ren Zhiqiang abused his power at a state firm and embezzled almost US$7.14 million of public funds A Chinese tycoon who called Chinese President Xi Jinping (習近平) a clown and criticized his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic was yesterday jailed for 18 years for corruption, bribery and embezzlement of public funds. Ren Zhiqiang (任志強) — once among the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) inner circle — disappeared from the public eye in March, shortly after penning an essay that lambasted Xi’s pandemic response. His outspokenness had earned the former chairman of state-owned property developer Huayuan Group the nickname “Big Cannon.” Yesterday’s verdict said that Ren embezzled almost 50 million yuan (US$7.4 million) of public funds and accepted bribes worth 1.25 million
OFF BORDER ISLAND: The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel wearing a life jacket and leaving behind his shoes, indicating an intentional move, Seoul said North Korean soldiers shot dead a suspected South Korean defector at sea and burned his body as a COVID-19 precaution after he was interrogated in the water over several hours, Seoul military officials said yesterday. It is the first killing of a South Korean citizen by North Korean forces for a decade, and comes with Pyongyang at high alert over the COVID-19 pandemic and inter-Korean relations at a standstill. The fisheries official disappeared from a patrol vessel near the western border island of Yeonpyeong on Monday, the official said. More than 24 hours later, North Korean forces located him in their waters and
The scarcity of commercial flights landing at Sydney Airport has been a disaster for airlines and workers, but for hobby pilots the COVID-19 pandemic has provided the opportunity of a lifetime. The quieter-than-usual runways mean that private pilots have been given the chance to land at the international airport for the first time. When Sydney Flight College club captain Tim Lindley put out a call, he received an overwhelming response. He eventually organized for 14 light aircraft to fly into Sydney airport on Sunday. “For a lot of the pilots involved, including myself, it was a childhood dream to land in a big
ACADEMIC FREEDOM: One professor told her students to submit anonymized papers and not to record any online classes. Some US schools have announced similar steps Students at Oxford University specializing in the study of China are being asked to submit some papers anonymously to protect them from the possibility of retribution under the sweeping new security law introduced three months ago in Hong Kong. The anonymity ruling is to be applied in classes, and group tutorials are to be replaced by one-to-ones. Students are also to be warned that it will be viewed as a disciplinary offence if they tape classes or share them with outside groups. The Hong Kong National Security Law was imposed on June 30 by Beijing after more than a year of pro-democracy