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Archive for Tuesday, June 26, 2007

U.N. peacekeepers salute fallen comrades

June 26, 2007

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— Grieving U.N. peacekeepers loaded flag-draped coffins into helicopters Monday and bid farewell to six comrades killed by a car bomb as they patrolled southern Lebanon.

The coffins of the soldiers - three Spaniards and three Colombians - were carried into a closed hangar at the Spanish-led force's headquarters, just a few minutes' drive from the blast site. One young soldier wept as he carried a casket.

Blue berets were placed on the coffins, which were wrapped in Spain's red-and-yellow flag.

"I am sure the Spanish people recognize your sacrifices," said Spain's Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonso.

In Colombia, President Alvaro Uribe said his countrymen's deaths were "an offering to the world from the heroic people of Colombia in its fight against terrorism."

After the 90-minute ceremony, the bodies were carried to be loaded onto the U.N. transport helicopters, which circled the base three times before heading northwest to Beirut's airport for the journey back home.

About 200 peacekeepers saluted the departing helicopters.

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