Middle East
Lebanon blasts called 'spy devices'
Hezbollah and army say Israel detonated underground sensors in country's south.
Last Modified: 19 Oct 2009 19:23 GMT
The Lebanese army and Unifil forces mounted an investigation following the explosions [Reuters]

Two explosions in southern Lebanon over the weekend may have been caused by the detonation of Israeli spying devices, according to two sources.

Hezbollah, the Lebanese political group whose military wing fought a war with Israel in 2006, said on Monday that Israel detonated the devices once it knew the spying equipment had been discovered.

"The Islamic Resistance [Hezbollah] has discovered a spying device installed by the Israeli enemy on a cable between the villages of Mays and Jebel after the 2006 war," Hezbollah said in a statement.

"It was established that the device was booby-trapped and that the enemy ... blew it up once it knew it had been found out."

Separately, the Lebanese army said the devices were detonated from inside Israel and identified them as sensors used by the Israelis for spying.

'Espionage device'

For their part, United Nations peacekeepers, who began an investigation after the explosions occurred, said the blasts appeared to have been caused by the detonation of two underground sensors.

"These do look like some sort of espionage device," Michael Williams, the UN special co-ordinator for Lebanon, was quoted by the Reuters news agency as saying.

Unifil, the UN mission in Lebanon, said the devices appeared to have been left by Israeli forces during Israel's 2006 campaign against Hezbollah.

But Hassan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah deputy, accused the UN mission of "unacceptable bias" over the claim.

"On what basis can Unifil say that the appliances were installed in 2006? How did it discover this before [the end] of the investigation?" he said.

Israeli response

The Israeli army said the Lebanese allegations "do not warrant a serious response" and that Israeli forces would "continue to act to maintain calm on Israel's northern border".

More than 70 people have been arrested this year in Lebanon on suspicion of spying for Israel.

Unifil also said it had protested to the Israeli military about overflights by drones while the Lebanese army and the UN peacekeepers were investigating the blasts.

Lebanese army troops opened fire on the drones with machine gun and small-arms fire, the Unifil statement said.

Williams said the use of drones was an obvious violation of Lebanese sovereignty and 1701, the US Security Council resolution that ended the 2006 conflict.

Williams called the overflights were "not particularly helpful at a time of obvious tension in the south".

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