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Lebanon report: Attack against UNIFIL thwarted
UN peacekeepers again in crosshairs of Lebanese terrorist organizations. Lebanese army arrests four-person terror cell from east of country on suspicions they tried to target UNIFIL officials in one of series of similar events recently

The Lebanese military thwarted an attack targeting UNIFIL forces operating in the south of the country, according to a report Sunday on Hezbollah's television channel al-Manar.

 

According to the report, the Lebanese military arrested a four-person terror cell that was in possession of a large quantity of explosives near Majdal Anjar, in the Lebanon Valley.

 

Defense officials reported to the channel, "The chase after the four people took place yesterday as part of a complex security operation that lasted many hours. The investigation continues in a bid to reveal which organization is behind the attempted attack."

 

The said cell joins a series of others who recently attempted to carry out attacks against various officials in Lebanon and to target UNIFIL forces stationed in the south of the country. Some two months ago, the local security apparatus arrested three people in the south of the county on suspicions that the planned an attack against the UN peacekeepers.

 

The defense forces located millions of dollars worth of equipment, including specialized pipes and some of the most advanced available liquid explosives, near the village of Shuba, which is very close to the border with Israel. Samples of the materials were sent to specialized labs in France. Investigators were shocked by the lab results, which indicated that the explosives were very sophisticated.

 

Last July, the trial of 17 armed Lebanese and foreign men opened for allegedly planning attacks against Lebanese soldiers and UN observers in the south. Those on trial including the leader of an armed organization linked to al-Qaida.

 

Members of the cell were charged with establishing "an armed gang" with the intention of committing crimes and planning attacks against civilian and military targets. The 17 defendants included Lebanese, Palestinians, and Syrians. Among those yet to be caught are leader Fatah al-Islam, Abd al-Rani Ali Ghuwahar, Abd al-Rahman Awad, who headed the organization's wing Palestinian refugee camp wing, and another senior member, Osama Amin Shahabi.

 

In August, the UN Security Council decided to extend the mandate of the UNIFIL force in Lebanon by one year. The force is made up of 12,000 peacekeepers stationed in Lebanon in various formations since 1978. The force was significantly beefed up after the Second Lebanon War three years ago. There is considerable tension between UNIFIL and Hezbollah, which reached a peak recently following an explosion in a Hezbollah weapons cache located near the border with Israel.

 

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