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6 U.N. peacekeepers killed in southern Lebanon

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NEW: Suspected car bomb kills six Spanish peacekeepers, wounds two
• U.N. peacekeepers were on patrol in southern Lebanon's Khiam Valley
• Hezbollah militant group condemned attack, claimed it was not responsible
• Over 1,000 Spanish troops are serving in the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon
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BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- A suspected car bomb struck a United Nations peacekeeping patrol Sunday in southern Lebanon, killing six Spanish peacekeepers and wounding two others, Spain's Defense Ministry said.

"The most probable cause, pending final analysis, is that the explosion came from a car bomb that was remotely detonated as the Spanish vehicle went by," Defense Minister Jose Antonio Alonso told reporters in Madrid.

"Our patrols use that route daily," he said. "It was a premeditated attack."

The Hezbollah militant group based in southern Lebanon issued a statement "apparently condemning the attack and saying it had nothing to do with it," Alonso said.

Spanish patrols had increased security in recent weeks after "various attempts to destabilize the situation," he said.

Those killed were between the ages of 18 and 21, the Defense Ministry said. Three were Colombian-born and serving in the Spanish army and the other three were Spaniards. The two wounded are also Spaniards.

Lebanese security sources said the bomb ignited ammunition inside the peacekeepers' armored vehicle, causing a secondary explosion that engulfed the vehicle in flames.

The explosion occurred in the eastern sector of south Lebanon in Khiam Valley, near the town of Dardara, Lebanese army sources said.

More than 1,000 Spanish troops are serving in the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, Spain's Defense Ministry said.

Alonso arrived Monday morning in Lebanon to supervise the investigation and the repatriation of the bodies. He was also due to visit the two wounded soldiers in hospital.

There are about 15,000 UNIFIL troops in southern Lebanon. The force was set up in 1978 after Israeli forces withdrew from Lebanon, but more troops were added following last year's war between Israel and Hezbollah forces in Lebanon.

CNN's Brent Sadler, Al Goodman and Carolina Sanchez contributed to this report.

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