Belgian peacekeepers wounded in Lebanon

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Sunday, December 31, 2006

Two Belgian soldiers, part of the UN peacekeeping force in Lebanon, were wounded Friday after stepping on a cluster bomb during a mine-clearing operation in southern Lebanon. One of the two soldiers stepped on a cluster bomb while clearing a minefield near the village of Majdel Silim. Their injuries were "serious but not life-threatening", a UNIFIL spokesman said, however this was denied by the cabinet of the Belgian Minister of Defence, André Flahaut. One soldier was wounded at the neck, the second was wounded at the foot.

One of the deminers has already left the hospital and was repatriated to Belgium on Saturday. He was first transported to the military hospital at Neder-over-Heembeek, but was later allowed to return home. The other soldier was taken to the hospital of Saida for further examination. He will have to undergo surgery to stabilise his condition before he can be repatriated early next week, minister André Flahaut stated.

The wounded soldiers are part of the units from Meerdaal and Poelkappele, but their identities were not revealed.

There are 374 Belgian soldiers serving with the UN force, known as UNIFIL, stationed near Tibnin in southern Lebanon, 12 kilometers from the Israeli border. Their main tasks are demining, medical support and reconstruction.