Argentina orders freezing of Hezbollah assets on anniversary of deadly bombing

By Cassandra Garrison

By Cassandra Garrison

BUENOS AIRES, July 18 (Reuters) - Argentinian authorities ordered the freezing of Hezbollah assets in the country on Thursday and effectively designated the Lebanese Islamist group, which it blames for two attacks on its soil, a terrorist organization.

The announcement came on the 25th anniversary of the bombing of a Jewish community center in Buenos Aires in which 85 people died. Argentina blames Iran and Hezbollah for the attack. Both deny any responsibility. U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the country to mark the anniversary.

Argentina also blames Hezbollah for an attack on the Israeli embassy in Buenos Aires in 1992 that killed 29 people.

Argentina's financial information unit ordered the freezing of assets of members of Hezbollah and the organization a day after the country created a new list for people and entities linked to terrorism.

The freezing of assets automatically places Hezbollah on Argentina's registry, designating it a terrorist organization, a government source with direct knowledge of the action confirmed.

U.S. and Argentine officials say Hezbollah operates in what is known as the tri-border area of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, where an illicit economy funds its operations elsewhere. (Reporting by Cassandra Garrison and Nicolas Misculin Editing by Ross Colvin)