UN observers wounded in Lebanon not hit by 'direct or indirect fire', peacekeepers say

UNIFIL's Andrea Tenenti speaks during interview with Reuters in Naqoura

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The United Nations' peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon said on Wednesday that an incident at the weekend in which three U.N. observers and their translator were wounded was not caused by "direct or indirect fire".

The four members of the U.N.'s technical observation mission in southern Lebanon were wounded as they were carrying out a foot patrol in south Lebanon, where armed group Hezbollah has been trading fire with the Israeli military across the border.

Two security sources had earlier told Reuters the observers were wounded in an Israeli strike outside the border town of Rmeish. The Israeli military denied involvement in the incident.

Andrea Tenenti, spokesperson for the U.N. peacekeeping mission UNIFIL, said its "preliminary investigation showed that the incident was not caused by direct or indirect fire onto the group of UNTSO observers and their translator."

"The investigation to determine the exact cause of the blast is ongoing," he told Reuters.

Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati had condemned on Saturday the "targeting" and wounding of U.N. staff in southern Lebanon, according to a statement from his office.

The observers were from Chile, Australia and Norway while the translator was Lebanese.

Israel's shelling of Lebanon has killed nearly 270 Hezbollah fighters, but has also killed around 50 civilians - including children, medics and journalists - and hit both UNIFIL and the Lebanese army.

Last month UNIFIL said the Israeli military had violated international law by firing on a group of clearly identifiable journalists, killing Reuters reporter Issam Abdallah.

(Reporting by Maya Gebeily; Editing by Gareth Jones)