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Italian Peacekeepers Attacked in Lebanon

The UK foreign office has condemned an attack on Italian UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon in which six soldiers were injured just days before International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers on May 29th.

“I condemn yesterday’s bomb attack on an Italian UNIFIL convoy in Lebanon.  My thoughts are with the victims of this attack and their families,” said UK Minister for the Middle East Alistair Burt.

Meanwhile, in Cyprus, the UN's ninth International Day of Peacekeepers was launched with a photo exhibition focusing on UNFICYP's police force and activities. 

In a speech marking the occasion in Nicosia, peace talks presidential representative George Iacovou said that "amongst all those that have acknowledged the importance of peace keeping are of course Cypriots, because UNFICYP has made a significant contribution to peace in Cyprus.”

"We are really hopeful that this particular effort over the last few months will yield the desired results that will bring peace on our island," said Iacovou.

Kudret Ozersay, Representative of Turkish Cypriot leader Dervis Eroglu, said “we are here to thank the peacekeepers on behalf of the Turkish Cypriot side for all their efforts and contributions in order to maintain stability on the island”.

The International Day of United Nations Peacekeepers was established by the General Assembly in 2002 to pay tribute to all men and women serving in UN peacekeeping operations and to honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the cause of peace. 

The General Assembly designated 29 May as the Day, as it was the date in 1948 when the first UN peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Truce Supervision Organization (UNTSO), began operations in Palestine.  Since May 29 falls on Sunday this year the event was held on Friday, May 27.

In Cyprus, since of the inception of UNFICYP in March 1964, 181 peacekeepers have lost their lives.  Recent deaths include those of Felisberto Novele, a UN de-miner from Mozambique killed in an explosion in a now-cleared minefield close to Nicosia October 2009, and Warrant Officer Graham Bean, a British soldier who died on duty at the beginning of this month.

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