GAZA (Reuters) - An Italian journalist, three Palestinian bomb disposal experts and two other people were killed in Gaza on Wednesday when unexploded munitions blew up, medical officials and police said.
The explosion was in Beit Lahiya, a town in the northern Gaza Strip that had been the scene of fierce fighting between Israeli forces and Palestinian militants during a month-long war.
A three-day ceasefire, in effect since Monday, has given Palestinians an opportunity to search for unexploded munitions.
Gaza’s police force said it was mourning the deaths of its three men: the head of the local bomb squad, his deputy and another officer, killed when an Israeli shell detonated.
Italy’s foreign minister, Federica Mogherini, offered the government’s condolences to the family of journalist Simone Camilli and said his death underlined the urgency of finding a lasting solution to conflict in the Middle East.
The Associated Press said Camilli, a video journalist, had worked for the U.S. news agency since 2005.
Pope Francis, who has called repeatedly for a ceasefire in Gaza, led a brief prayer with journalists accompanying him on a visit to South Korea.
“I propose a silent prayer for Simone Camilli, one of yours, who left us today while in service,” he said on board the flight, adding: “These are the consequences of war.”
“Let us hope for peace,” he said, referring to not only to the conflict in Gaza but also fighting in Ukraine, Iraq and Syria. “What is happening now is terrible,” he said.
Reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Additional reporting by Isla Binnie in Rome and Philip Pullella on papal plane; Editing by Louise Ireland and Jeffrey Heller