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Roadside bomb wounds 5 French peacekeepers in south Lebanon
BEIRUT (AP) ' A roadside bomb struck a United Nations peacekeepers' vehicle Friday in southern Lebanon, wounding five French soldiers in the third attack this year against the international force, officials said.
The U.N. force, which is deployed to keep the peace along Lebanon's southern border with Israel, said the wounded soldiers were evacuated for medical treatment.
"UNIFIL's forensic and investigation teams are at the location of the explosion, working in close cooperation with their counterparts of the Lebanese Army to determine all the facts and circumstances surrounding the incident," said Andrea Tenenti, a spokesman for the force.
A Lebanese security official identified the soldiers as French and said the bomb exploded in the Bourj al-Shamali area, near the port city of Tyre. He spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
A Lebanese bystander also was wounded, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.
U.N. peacekeepers have been deployed in southern Lebanon since 1978 to monitor the border with Israel. The force was boosted to almost 12,000 troops after Israel and the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group fought a war in 2006.
Under the U.N. resolution that ended the fighting, the mission is monitoring a zone south of the Litani River where Hezbollah is banned from keeping weapons.
In May, a roadside bomb struck a convoy carrying Italian peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, wounding six of them. Two months later, a roadside bomb blew up next to a U.N. convoy carrying French peacekeepers in the south, wounding at least five peacekeepers.
The deadliest assault on the U.N. peacekeeping force was in June 2007, when a bomb hit an armored personnel carrier near the Israeli border and killed six Spanish peacekeepers.
No group has claimed responsibility for any of the attacks.
Bassem Mroue can be reached on http://twitter.com/bmroue