Lebanon, UN peacekeepers hold memorial for Irish UNIFIL soldier killed by gunfire

The coffin of UNIFIL Pvt. Seán Rooney at his memorial procession at the Lebanese army airbase, at Beirut airport, December 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)
The coffin of UNIFIL Pvt. Seán Rooney at his memorial procession at the Lebanese army airbase, at Beirut airport, December 18, 2022. (AP Photo/Hussein Malla)

The Lebanese army and UN peacekeepers hold a memorial at the Beirut airport for an Irish soldier killed by a mob that opened fire last week at two vehicles belonging to the UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon, a traditional stronghold of the militant Hezbollah group.

The attack that killed 24 year-old Pvt. Seán Rooney of Newtowncunningham took place near the southern town of Al-Aqbiya on Wednesday night, as he and seven other Irish peacekeepers from the UN peacekeeping mission, known as UNIFIL, were on their way to the Beirut airport.

A person familiar with the investigation says local residents were angered and became aggressive when two UNIFIL armored vehicles took a detour through Al-Aqbiya, which the residents say is not part of the area under UNIFIL’s mandate.

“We shall always keep in mind our fallen comrades in arms, as they represent an example of an unwavering commitment to UNIFIL and this country,” UNIFIL chief, Maj. Gen. Aroldo Lázaro, says at the memorial.

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