S. Lebanon: Villagers altercate with UN peacekeepers

Residents became upset when Spanish UNIFIL unit made up of two Humvee vehicles began taking pictures of the hills and valleys; none hurt.

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January 18, 2007 12:56
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A dispute erupted between residents and Spanish peacekeepers over the troops' presence in a south Lebanon village, newspapers and the UN said Thursday, the first such incident since a beefed-up international force began policing the Israeli-Hizbullah cease-fire. There were no clashes and no one was hurt in the incident Wednesday at the village of Zaoutar, just north of the Litani River, according to the newspapers and a spokesman for the peacekeepers. In the Wednesday incident, a Spanish UNIFIL unit made up of two Humvee vehicles was in the village when residents noticed the troops taking pictures of the hills and valleys, newspapers reported. The leading daily An-Nahar said dozens of villagers confronted the peacekeepers and tried to take the cameras. The Spanish troops took up precautionary combat positions. On Thursday, UNIFIL spokesman Liam McDowall said the Spanish unit was inspecting the roads when "some residents expressed concern" about their presence. The situation was aggravated by a "complete breakdown of communications" because of the language barrier, but McDowall insisted in an interview there was "absolutely no confrontation and no weapons involved." He said the UNIFIL does not operate north of the Litani River and that the troops were there to inspect routes that could be used by their vehicles.


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