Lebanon: UN investigates large cache of explosives found near Israel

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United Nations peacekeepers, in close coordination with the Lebanese army, are investigating a significant cache of explosives found in southern Lebanon near Israel, the latest such incident in an area where Israel and Hizbollah militants fought a 34-day war in 2006.

A patrol from the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) found the explosives on 26 December south of El Khiam after they had first noticed suspicious movement by five people, who then fled as they approached, spokesman Martin Nesirky told a news briefing today.

The investigation to identify the precise nature of the explosives and the circumstances under which they were found at the location is continuing. "We must await the findings of the investigation before we can make any final assessment and conclusion," Mr. Nesirky said.

Last October there were two series of explosions in southern Lebanon. Other incidents included the firing of rockets into Israel as well as repeated Israeli over-flights of Lebanon, both of these violations of Security Council resolution 1701 of 2006, which calls for an end to hostilities between Israel and Hizbollah, respect for the so-called Blue Line separating the Israeli and Lebanese sides, disarming of militias and an end to arms smuggling.

In an October report, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called disbanding militias in Lebanon "of vital importance" to the country's democracy. "The threats posed by the existence of militias outside the control of the State, especially Hizbollah's vast paramilitary infrastructure, cannot be overstated," he said.

Resolution 1701 expanded UNIFIL, which was already in the country following previous hostilities, and it currently numbers around 13,000 military personnel.