Slovenian Soldiers Attacked in Lebanon, But Unharmed

By , 04 Aug 2018, 17:54 PM News
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STA, 4 August 2018 - Slovenian soldiers serving in the UN mission in Lebanon came under attack by a sizeable group of armed individuals during a regular patrol this morning, but they have managed to deflect the assault unharmed and return to their base, the STA has learned from the Slovenian Armed Forces (SAF). 

The attackers surrounded the Slovenian patrol, damaging its vehicle by pounding the windows.

After the Slovenian troops managed to get away and continued on their way to the base, they were ambushed by even a larger group of attackers, who doused the army vehicle with petrol and set it on fire.

The Slovenian soldiers shot two warning shots after which they returned to their base safe and sound.

The SAF made a point of saying that the use of weapons for troops serving in the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) is guided by strict rules and limitations.

"The SAF members acted strictly by the book and successfully deflected the attack. They are currently at their base unharmed."

The news web portal 24ur.com has reported that at one point during the incident, the Slovenian soldiers were left without weapons and some equipment.

The UNIFIL told the portal that the weapons and equipment were now again in the possession of their units, and that an inquiry had been launched to establish what had in fact happened.

The portal also quotes the SAF as saying that the Slovenian soldiers did not hand over their weapons, but that the attackers stole two rifles and three handguns during the scuffle while the soldiers were trying to get out of the burning vehicle.

After the incident, President Borut Pahor spoke to the commander of the Slovenian rotation and soldiers involved in the incident, praising their suitable response and wishing them a safe completion of their mission.

The president, who is the SAF supreme commander, also consulted the troops' commander on the broader security situation in Lebanon and the region, his office said.

Slovenia has been participating in the UNIFIL mission since December 2006. The latest rotation, numbering 15 soldiers, started serving their mission in May this year.

This was not the first attack on Slovenian members of the mission, but no one among them has so far been injured.

In the spring of 2015 Slovenian members of the UNIFIL mission were ambushed by members of an Arab militia who confiscated their computer, which unofficially contained sensitive data. They were ambushed again in February 2017.

Slovenia currently has almost 350 soldiers deployed in international missions around the world, most of them in Kosovo and Afghanistan.

Since the first deployment in 1997, to ALBA mission in Albania in 1997, only one Slovenian soldier died while on mission abroad. This was as a female soldier committed suicide while serving in Kosovo in 2009.

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