- The blast is condemned by France, Lebanese officials and Hezbollah
- The injuries suffered by the soldiers are light
- This is one of several attacks on U.N. peacekeepers in Lebanon this year
- The five wounded troops are French
A bomb went off near a U.N. patrol vehicle in southern Lebanon Friday, wounding five French U.N. troops in the latest attack on peacekeepers in the region this year.
The soldiers received treatment on the scene before being evacuated for further medical attention, said Andrea Tenenti, deputy spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which monitors the cessation of hostilities between Lebanon and Israel. Tenenti said that the injuries suffered were light.
French and Lebanese officials roundly condemned the strike, which occurred east of the city of Tyre and near the town of Burj Al Shamali.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said such incidents are aimed at putting pressure on peacekeepers to pull out of Lebanon and open the way for the return of terrorist activity. Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the attacks "do not only target UNIFIL troops only but also target Lebanon's security and stability, as well of the security of all Lebanese."
French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said his country "demands that light be shed on the attack. We call Lebanese authorities to make every effort to ensure that those responsible are prosecuted."
Hezbollah, the Lebanese Shiite militant group regarded as a terror organization by the United States and Israel, said the act was "aimed against Lebanon's security and stability, and aimed at the stability of Southern Lebanon more specifically," and added that Hezbollah "calls upon the security apparatuses to exert all efforts to put an end to such attacks."
A civilian was also wounded in the attack, Lebanon's National News Agency reported.
UNIFIL has been in southern Lebanon since the nation's 1978 conflict with Israel. After the 2006 war between Israel and Lebanon's Hezbollah militia, the peacekeepers' mandate was expanded to include helping Lebanon keep the country's south "free of any armed personnel, assets and weapons" other than government troops.
In July, an explosion in the port city of Sidon left six French troops wounded. And in May, a blast wounded six Italian troops from the 15,000-member contingent.