Peacekeeper condemns 'criminal' act in Beirut

Published: Aug. 16, 2013 at 12:02 PM

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Aug. 16 (UPI) -- Thursday's bombing in a Hezbollah stronghold of southern Beirut was a criminal act against civilian lives, the U.N. peacekeeping mission said Friday.

The Daily Star newspaper in Lebanon reported Thursday a previously unknown group calling itself the Brigade of Aisha, the Mother of the Faithful, took credit for a car bomb in Beirut that left more than 20 people dead and at least 250 others injured.

Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah blamed Israel for the bombing. He said this week his group was responsible for a device that exploded near the border with Israel, wounding four Israeli soldiers last week.

Maj. Gen. Paolo Serra, head of the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon, said Friday he condemned the "criminal targeting of civilians" in Beirut.

"We in UNIFIL, each one of us, stand resolutely by our Lebanese hosts in our common quest for peace and security," he said in a statement. "Moments like this only further strengthen our resolve."

The British and French governments issued statements condemning the attack.

"It is essential to get to the bottom of this attack, and for those responsible to be held accountable," the French Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Lebanon gained independence from France in the 1940s.

Dozens of Lebanese troops were killed in a June battle with supporters of a Sunni cleric critical of Hezbollah, which is Shiite. More than 50 people were injured in a bombing of a Hezbollah neighborhood in Beirut in July.

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