Suspect arrested over killing of Irish peacekeeping soldier in Lebanon

Suspect Arrested Over Killing Of Irish Peacekeeping Soldier In Lebanon
Private Sean Rooney, © PA Media
Share this article

By Abby Sewell and Kareem Chehayeb, Associated Press

The Lebanese army has arrested a suspect in the killing earlier this month of a UN peacekeeper from Ireland who died when his convoy was shot at in southern Lebanon, officials said.

The area of the December 14 attack, near the southern town of Al-Aqbiya, is a centre of support for the Lebanese militant Hezbollah group, which has denied any role in the killing of Private Sean Rooney.


Hezbollah spokeswoman Rana Sahili said the Lebanese army arrested the suspect “in co-operation with Hezbollah”, and that he was not a member of the militant group.

Private Sean Rooney
The burial service for Private Sean Rooney in Colehill, Co Donegal (Liam McBurney/PA)

Two Lebanese security officials confirmed the arrest and said the investigation is continuing. They did not identify or provide any details about the suspect.


Initially, the military detained three people in connection with the attack but released two who were found not to have been involved in the killing, one of the security officials said.

Andrea Tenenti, spokesman for the UN peacekeeping mission known as Unifil, said the peacekeepers have yet to receive “official information” regarding any arrests.

Pte Rooney, of Newtowncunningham, and several other Irish peacekeepers were on their way from their base in the south to Beirut airport. Two UN vehicles apparently took a detour through Al-Aqbiya, which is not part of the area under the peacekeepers’ mandate.

According to earlier reports, a group of angry residents confronted the peacekeepers, claiming they were outside their jurisdiction, and opened fire at the vehicles. Confrontations between residents in southern Lebanon and Unifil troops are not uncommon.


Private Shane Kearney
Private Shane Kearney was injured in the attack (Defence Forces/PA)

However, one of the two security officials said the suspect who was arrested had been part of a group that followed the UN convoy from the town of Sarafand, about two miles away, suggesting a targeted attack.

Pte Rooney was buried in Ireland last week, while another Irish peacekeeper who was wounded in the attack, 22-year-old Private Shane Kearney, was flown back to Ireland.


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

The UN expanded its mission after the 2006 war between Israel and the Iran-backed Hezbollah, allowing peacekeepers to deploy along the Israeli border to help the Lebanese military extend its authority into the country’s south for the first time in decades.

Hezbollah supporters in Lebanon frequently accuse the UN mission of collusion with Israel, while Israel has accused the peacekeepers of turning a blind eye to Hezbollah’s military activities in southern Lebanon.

Read More

Message submitting... Thank you for waiting.

Want us to email you top stories each lunch time?

Download our Apps
© 2023, developed by Square1 and powered by