Latin America & Caribbean

Argentina designates Hezbollah as terrorist organisation

Picture released by Noticias Argentinas showing people holding pictures of victims of the 1994 bombing attack against the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) Jewish community center that killed 85 people and injured 300, during the commemoration of the attack's 25th anniversary, in Buenos Aires on July 18, 2019. Image copyright AFP
Image caption Relatives of the victims of the Amia bombing gathered in Buenos Aires

Argentina has designated Lebanon's Hezbollah movement as a terrorist organisation and frozen its assets.

It accuses the Shia Islamist group of being behind two attacks on its soil.

The announcement was made on the 25th anniversary of one - the bombing of the Amia Jewish cultural centre in Buenos Aires, in which 85 people died.

Hezbollah is also designated by the US, UK, Israel and several Gulf Arab states, but Argentina is the first country in Latin America to do so.

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"At present, Hezbollah continues to represent a current threat to security and the integrity of the economic and financial order of the Argentine Republic," Argentina's Financial Information Unit said on Thursday in a statement announcing the freezing of the group's assets.

Argentine officials say Hezbollah is engaged in illegal activities between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay to finance its operations elsewhere.

The group has been accused of carrying out a string of bombings and plots against Jewish and Israeli targets around the world since it emerged in Lebanon with the help of Iran during the early 1980s.

The attack on the Amia centre - which Argentina said was planned and financed by Iran, and carried out by Hezbollah - was the South American country's deadliest terrorist attack.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Eighty-five people were killed and more than 300 injured in the Amia attack

Both Iran and Hezbollah have denied any involvement. No-one has ever been brought to trial in connection with the bombing.

Argentines gathered in front of the rebuilt Amia centre on Thursday to remember those who died when a truck laden with explosives ploughed into the building.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption No-one has ever been brought to trial in connection with the bombing

Ambulances, police cars and fire stations rang their sirens at 09:53 - the time that the explosion happened 25 years ago.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo travelled to Buenos Aires to attend the commemorative event as well as a counter-terrorism summit also held in the capital.

The US, along with Israel, had pushed for Argentina to declare Hezbollah a terrorist organisation.

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