Senior Hezbollah official says ‘unintentional incident’ led to Irish soldier death

A senior Hezbollah official on Thursday said an “unintentional incident” had led to the death of an Irish soldier on a UN peacekeeping mission in southern Lebanon the previous evening, saying the armed group was not involved.

Wafiq Safa told Reuters his party offered its condolences “after the unintentional incident that took place between the residents of al-Aqbieh and individuals from the Irish unit,” and urged the party not be “inserted” into the incident.

The soldiers, part of the United Nations Interim Forces in Lebanon (UNIFIL), were on what Simon Coveney, who is also Ireland’s foreign minister, said was considered a standard run from UNIFIL’s area of operations in south Lebanon to Beirut when the incident happened in Al-Aqbieh late on Wednesday.

“The two armored vehicles effectively got separated. One of them got surrounded by a hostile mob, I think that’s the only way you could describe them, and shots were fired. Unfortunately, one of our peacekeepers was killed,” Coveney told Irish national broadcaster RTE.

“This was not expected, yes there has been some tension on the ground between Hezbollah forces and UNIFIL in recent months but nothing like this.”

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