Irish peacekeeper injured in Lebanon attack to be sent to Ireland for treatment

Pvt Shane Kearney was seriously injured in the deadly attack last week

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An Irish peacekeeper who suffered a serious head injury in a deadly attack in Lebanon will be taken back to Ireland for further treatment.

Pvt Shane Kearney, 22, suffered the injury during a widely condemned attack on a Unifil convoy last week in southern Lebanon, which led to the death of Pvt Sean Rooney.

They were part of the 121st Infantry Battalion, made up of 333 Irish troops, which has been stationed in Lebanon since November.

The Irish Defence Forces said Pvt Kearney will be flown from Beirut Airport to Casement Aerodrome, Baldonnel and then transferred to a hospital in Dublin on Wednesday.

An Irish Defences Forces statement said: “Trooper Shane Kearney is continuing to improve and he remains stable at present.”

Two other peacekeepers were also treated for minor injuries. The body of Pvt Rooney, who will be buried with full military honours on Thursday, was repatriated from Lebanon on Monday.

The Lebanese Army posthumously awarded him the War Medal, the Wounded Medal, and the Appreciation Medal Bronze Degree from the Lebanese Armed Forces.

Three investigations into the attack in the village of Al Aqbiya are taking place; one will be led by the UN, another by the Irish military and a third by the Lebanese government.

The exact circumstances surrounding the attack are murky and the UN has demanded a speedy investigation.

But it appears two peacekeeper vehicles took a detour via Al Aqbiya — just outside the area of Unifil operations — en route to Beirut and were surrounded by angry locals.

A Lebanese judicial source told AFP that Pvt Rooney was killed by a bullet to the head, one of seven that hit the vehicle.

Iran-backed armed group and political party Hezbollah has a major presence in southern Lebanon, including in Al Aqbiya, but has denied any involvement in the attack.

About 13,000 UN peacekeepers are stationed in Lebanon, where the interim force has overseen a ceasefire with Israel.

More than 300 soldiers serving with Unifil have died since 1978, 48 of whom were Irish.

Updated: December 21, 2022, 10:39 AM
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