Lebanon: Spain takes measures to minimize risk to its peacekeepers

Madrid (dpa) The death of six of Spain's peacekeepers in Lebanon on Sunday has prompted Madrid to change its military plans in an attempt to minimize risks to soldiers participating in international missions, media reported Thursday.

Spain has suspended the dispatch of 50 military instructors to Afghanistan, where it has a contingent of nearly 700 soldiers as part of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).

The government also said it was immediately sending four armoured personnel carriers equipped with explosion-preventing devices to Lebanon.

Spanish troops were to limit their movements until a total of about 30 vehicles had been equipped with mechanisms known as frequency inhibitors, which block explosions set off by remote control.

The government has come under criticism because the vehicle carrying the slain soldiers did not have such a mechanism.

Spain subsequently revealed that other contingents in the 13,000-strong United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) did not have such protection either, creating unease at UNIFIL headquarters.

The six peacekeepers, who were Spanish and Colombian nationals, were hit by a car bomb while patrolling north of the Israeli border.

Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Seniora was meanwhile expected in Madrid for a brief visit.

Seniora was flying in during a European tour to express his condolences for the soldiers' deaths and to thank Spain's 1,100-member contingent for its participation in the peacekeeping effort.

Seniora and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero were also to analyze the situation in Lebanon after Sunday's attack. dpa st sc


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