UNIFIL Breaks Up Israeli, Lebanese Clash

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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 1 (UPI) — U.N. peacekeepers scrambled to Lebanon’s border with Israel in response to a brief exchange of gunfire between both sides, the United Nations reported Monday.

The U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon confirmed a “brief exchange” of gunfire between Israeli and Lebanese forces along the so-called Blue Line separating the countries.

“UNIFIL peacekeepers immediately responded to the location in order to contain the situation and prevent any escalation,” the peacekeeping force said in a statement. “The firing has since ceased and the situation in the area is quiet.”

UNIFIL added there were no reports of casualties following Monday’s skirmish. Italian army Brig Gen. Santi Bonfanti, the acting commander for the peacekeeping force, said he was in contact with both militaries to press for restraint.

Six members of the French contingent of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon were injured when their convoy hit what authorities say was a roadside bomb near a trash depot in Sidon last week.

The attack on UNIFIL was the second in 2011. Six Italian peacekeepers were injured by a roadside bomb in May near the site of the French attack.

Monday’s exchange came almost a year to the day after both sides traded fire along the border Aug. 3, 2010. That attack left at least four people dead, including an Israeli lieutenant colonel, dead. Lebanese forces said Israeli troops wandered too far into their territory though UNIFIL later cleared the Israelis of wrongdoing.

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