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Spanish judge orders investigation into killing of six U.N. peacekeepers slain in Lebanon

A Spanish judge ordered an investigation into the killing of six U.N. peacekeepers slain in a car bombing in Lebanon this week.

Judge Fernando Grande-Marlaska also ordered that none of the bodies should be cremated in case families of the slain decide to ask for second autopsies, a National Court spokeswoman said.

Grande-Marlaska will ask for reports on the attack from Spain's defense and foreign ministries, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as court rules prevent her from being publicly identified.

The judge issued the order under a Spanish law which entitles the country's courts to prosecute crimes like genocide or terrorism even if they are alleged to have been committed elsewhere.

The Spanish army peacekeepers were patrolling the main road between the towns of Marjayoun and Khiam, a few kilometers north of the Israeli town of Metulla, when a bomb engulfed their armored personnel carrier Sunday. Two other soldiers were seriously wounded.

Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack but the anti-Syrian coalition in parliament blamed Damascus, despite its condemnation of the bombing.

Grande-Marlaska's probe order came shortly after Spain's Prince Felipe and Princess Letizia and government ministers joined grieving relatives of six peacekeepers for a state funeral at a military base in Paracuellos del Jarama, outside Madrid.

The ceremony, which was televised on national channels, preceded a funeral Mass presided over by armed forces archbishop Francisco Peres.

"I don't understand, I'm speechless, the last time I saw him was in January before he left. He called me on Saturday to tell me he was coming back in 15 days' time," said Letizia Izquierdo, a close friend of one of the Spanish soldiers.

Earlier, Prince Felipe laid a medal of honor on each of the six coffins which were placed in a row in front of an open-air altar. Each of the coffins was draped with the Spanish flag.

Zapatero and the prince had joined the families before dawn for the arrival of the remains of three Spanish and three Colombian servicemen at an air base after they had been flown from Beirut Monday evening. The Colombians were immigrants in Spain serving in the Spanish army.

"He was unique, he had his own way of thinking, he was so hardworking," said Ricardo Castana, cousin of one of the Colombian servicemen.

Spain has 1,100 peacekeepers in Lebanon, part of the 13,000-member U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon from 30 countries, which first deployed in Lebanon in 1978 and was reinforced in the past year. UNIFIL, along with 15,000 Lebanese troops, patrols a zone along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

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