Seven people are accused by Lebanon of murdering UN peacekeeper Sean Rooney.
According to numerous officials, the military court in Lebanon has filed charges against seven people for taking part in an attack last month that resulted in the death of a United Nations peacekeeper when the convoy he was traveling in was attacked.
A group of armed men opened fire on a UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) vehicle on December 14 near the village of al-Aqbiya in southern Lebanon, a stronghold for the Lebanese group Hezbollah, which has denied any involvement in the killing. Irish Private Sean Rooney, 23, was killed and three other peacekeepers were injured.
Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed Shia organization, said the suspect was not one of its members but was nonetheless detained by the Lebanese military in late December "in coordination with Hezbollah".
According to a judicial official familiar with the inquiry, a legal officer following the case, and a military official, the captured individual and six other fugitives were charged in the attack. All spoke to news organizations while maintaining their identities in accordance with the law.
The officials stated that the remaining six suspects were being sought and that efforts were being made to ascertain whether they had left the country.
UNIFIL has urged the Lebanese government to guarantee that the first violent death of one of its peacekeepers in nearly eight years is promptly investigated.
The police claimed to have no knowledge of the arrest or the allegations in the case, according to the news agency The Associated Press.
After Israel invaded southern Lebanon in 1978, a peacekeeping force was established to supervise the departure of Israeli forces. Following the 2006 conflict between Israel and Hezbollah, the UN widened the scope of its mandate, allowing peacekeepers to be stationed along the Israeli border to assist the Lebanese military in reestablishing control over the south of the nation.
Supporters of Hezbollah in Lebanon routinely charge the UN force with working in concert with Israel, and Israel has charged the peacekeepers with ignoring Hezbollah's military operations in southern Lebanon.
There have been several skirmishes between Hezbollah supporters and UN peacekeepers throughout the years, but they have rarely gotten worse.
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