A UN peacekeeper was killed Wednesday in an explosion of ordnance leftover from last summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah in southern Lebanon, a UN official said. The incident occurred at 12:40 p.m. (0940 GMT) Wednesday as an engineering team from the UN peacekeeping force was clearing unexploded shells in a valley south of the village of Shama, near the town of Naqoura and close to the Lebanese border with Israel. One UN peacekeeper died when the leftover ordnance exploded, said Yasmina Bouziane, a spokeswoman for the UN force, known as UNIFIL. She added that a medical team was sent to the explosion site and that UNIFIL had launched an investigation into the incident. Bouziane would not identify or disclose the nationality of the victim, pending notification of relatives. Earlier, Lebanese state-run National News Agency reported that the blast was caused by a cluster bomb explosion. More than 30 people have been killed in cluster bombs or land mine explosions in Lebanon since last summer's 34-day war between Israel and Hizbullah ended on Aug. 14. The United Nations and human rights groups say Israel dropped about 4 million cluster bomblets during the war, and UN ordnance clearing experts say that up to 1 million failed to explode. The 13,000-member UN force is drawn from 30 countries. Last month, six peacekeepers belonging to the Spanish contingent were killed when a bomb struck their armored personnel carrier in southern Lebanon, marking the first such attack against UNIFIL.
Nasrallah hints Israel behind attacks
Also, earlier this month, a roadside bomb struck a UN jeep in the village of Qassimiyeh near the southern port city of Tyre, causing damage to the vehicle but no casualties.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks. But in a videotape earlier this month, al Qaida's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri blessed the attack against the Spanish contingent, fueling speculation that it was carried out by al Qaida-linked militants.