The Defence Forces has said two soldiers who were on the convoy in which Private Seán Rooney was killed on Wednesday have been released from hospital after receiving treatment for minor injuries. Both are back safely in their base, UNP 2-45, known as Camp Shamrock. Trooper Shane Kearney, who was also injured in the attack, remains in hospital in a critical condition.
A team of eight Defence Forces personnel is on its way to Lebanon to support members of Pte Rooney’s battalion. A team of Garda detectives and forensic experts are due to travel to Lebanon over the coming days to act in a “liaison role”.
The Defence Forces said on Saturday that an Air Corps CASA aircraft has also been “pre-positioned in Malta as a contingency to provide support to the 121 Infantry Battalion if required”. The aircraft has been made available to repatriate Pte Rooney’s body in the coming days.
The 24-year-old soldier was shot dead when his UN vehicle was attacked by an armed group in Al-Aqbieh during a routine journey to Beirut airport.
The garda team due to travel to Lebanon will be made up of officers from the Garda National Bureau of Crime Investigation and the Garda Technical Bureau.
One focus of the investigation will be exactly how Pte Rooney was killed. Preliminary investigations show the fatal shot was fired through a rear window or through an open rear door, indicating a more targeted killing rather than random gunfire.
A number of assault rifle-style rounds have been recovered from the vehicle. It is not known if Irish Army personnel returned fire during the incident or if their weapons have since been recovered. A Defence Forces spokesman said its investigation will cover this matter and declined to comment further.
Ireland’s Ambassador to Egypt Nuala O’Brien has also travelled to Lebanon to assist Irish officials.
On Saturday, the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) released a statement condemning the attack. It called for “an immediate and transparent” investigation into the circumstance of the attack, and expressed sympathy with the Government and people of Ireland.
Kuwait also condemned the attack, extending “sincere condolence and sympathy” to the people of Ireland and the family of the deceased.