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Page last updated at 14:05 GMT, Tuesday, 21 July 2009 15:05 UK

Lebanon detains 10 for 'UN plot'

UN peacekeepers in Lebanon (file photo)
The Lebanese army said UN forces were to be targeted in attacks

The Lebanese army says it has broken up a cell of militant Islamists who had allegedly planned to attack soldiers and UN peacekeepers in south Lebanon.

An army official said the men were part of "a terrorist network linked to al-Qaeda", and were a cell the army had long been trying to capture.

The men have been accused of smuggling fighters into Lebanon, and plotting attacks outside and inside the country.

Most of the suspects were not Lebanese but came from Arab states.

An army statement said the suspects had been planning to smuggle terrorists out of Ain al-Helweh, the largest of Lebanon's 12 Palestinian refugee camps.

Deteriorating security

The army said the network had also been plotting to bring militants from the extremist jihadi Fatah al-Islam group into the camp, near the southern coastal town of Sidon.

The aim, said the army statement, was "to carry out attacks from Lebanon on targets abroad and create terrorist cells to monitor Unifil and the army in order to carry out terrorist attacks on them".

Set up in 1978 after Israel invaded Lebanon, Unifil (the UN Interim Force in Lebanon) has a remit to monitor the Israeli border.

It was expanded after Israel's 2006 war with militant Shia group Hezbollah.

Tuesday's arrests come in the midst of a deteriorating security situation in the south of the country, along the border with Israel, says the BBC's Natalia Antelava.

Last week, an arms cache belonging to Hezbollah exploded only 20km (12 miles) from the Israeli frontier.

Israel said the explosion was a gross violation of the UN Security Council resolution which ended the 2006 war.

In an official complaint to the UN, Israel also accused some of the peacekeepers of collaborating with Hezbollah.



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SEE ALSO
'Hezbollah arms cache' blows up
14 Jul 09 |  Middle East
Lebanon blast kills UN soldiers
24 Jun 07 |  Middle East
Timeline: Lebanon
13 Jul 11 |  Country profiles

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