Lebanon charges seven suspects in the murder of Irish soldier Seán Rooney

The Lebanese military tribunal has charged seven suspects in last month’s attack that killed an Irish peacekeeper when a group of armed residents ambushed his convoy and opened fire, officials said.

The shooting took place near the southern Lebanon town of Al-Aqbiya, a center of support for the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which denies any role in the killing.

The attack killed Pvt. Seán Rooney, 24, of Newtowncunningham, Co. Donegal, and the badly wounded Pvt. Shane Kearney, 22. The wounded peacekeeper was medically evacuated to Ireland from Lebanon. Two other Irish soldiers in the vehicle suffered minor injuries.

In late December, the Lebanese military arrested a suspect allegedly “collaborating with Hezbollah,” according to the group, which said the man was not a Hezbollah member.

The arrested man and six others have been charged with the assault, according to a law enforcement officer familiar with the investigation, a law enforcement officer dealing with the case and a military official.

All spoke on condition of anonymity, according to regulations.

Officials said a search is underway for the other six suspects and that officials are trying to determine if they left the country.

The Lebanese military, in a brief statement, said the case had been referred to the “relevant judiciary” on Tuesday, but did not mention the charges or other developments.

The UN peacekeeping mission in south Lebanon, also known as UNIFIL, said it had received no information about the arrest or the charges in the case. Hezbollah did not immediately respond to inquiries about the latest developments.

UNIFIL was formed to oversee the withdrawal of Israeli troops from southern Lebanon after a 1978 invasion.

After the 2006 war between Israel and Iran-backed Hezbollah, the United Nations expanded its mission, allowing peacekeepers to be stationed along Israel’s border to help the Lebanese military extend its authority to southern Lebanon for the first time in decades to expand country.

Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon often accuse the UN mission of collusion with Israel, while Israel accuses the peacekeepers of ignoring Hezbollah’s military activities in southern Lebanon.

https://www.independent.ie/irish-news/lebanon-charges-seven-suspects-in-killing-of-irish-soldier-sean-rooney-42264438.html Lebanon charges seven suspects in the murder of Irish soldier Seán Rooney

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