Explosion rocks south Lebanon border town

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A big explosion ripped through Teir Harfa in south Lebanon, near the Israeli border, early Monday, security sources told The Daily Star.

Teir Harfa mayor Yasser Ataya said the blast was caused by a rocket that had been fired into south Lebanon during the 2006 war but did not explode.

“Thank God there are no casualties,” Ataya told The Daily Star.

The explosion which took place on the outskirts of Teir Harfa shattered windows of at least three nearby houses.

The rocket – among a stock of several similar rockets and artillery shells stacked in a henhouse — was left from the 2006 war between Hezbollah and the Israeli army.

Hours after the explosion in south Lebanon – which remains a Hezbollah stronghold – Israeli warplanes flew over Teir Harfa and nearby villages surrounding the coastal city of Tyre. At least one reconnaissance jet hovered over the blast site.

Hezbollah members sealed off the area following the 6:45 a.m. blast, preventing access to the Lebanese Army or U.N. peacekeepers, according to the security sources.

Spokesman for the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon Andrea Tenenti, however, said UNIFIL was able to reach the explosion site.

“We are there on the spot at the moment with the Lebanese Army. We heard of the explosion this morning at around 7,” Tenenti told The Daily Star by telephone.

Tenenti said he has no details yet as to the nature of the explosion, noting, however, that the target was either a building or a construction site.

“We are trying to ascertain the nature of the place and the nature of the explosion,” he said.

Some local media reports suggested the blast targeted a Hezbollah arms depot.

Hezbollah keeps a stockpile of weaponry and has an arsenal of around 30,000 rockets. The group refuses to disarm saying it needs its weapons in the event of a new war with Israel.

Three Hezbollah members were killed in an explosion in an arms depot near Nabi Sheet, east Lebanon, in October.

UNIFIL, which first deployed troops in Lebanon in 1978, remains in the country after its expansion under U.N. Security Council Resolution 1701 that ended the 2006 war.

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