HERMEL, Lebanon: An ambush Sunday by the Jaafar clan in east Lebanon led to the killing of two people and the wounding of the mayor of the border town of Arsal, security sources told The Daily Star.
Members of the Jaafar clan shot at Mayor Ali Hujeiri’s convoy in Labweh as it was returning from Ras Baalbek, where earlier he had overseen an exchange of hostages, the sources said.
Two members of Hujeiri’s party – Hasan Hujeiri and Shehayeb al-Ahmad – were killed in the ambush, the sources said, adding that the mayor and two others in the convoy were wounded.
Ahmad is reportedly a member of the Islamist Nusra Front which is battling forces loyal to President Bashar Assad in neighboring Syria.
The sources said Hujeiri’s convoy was made up of around 15 people, including three Syrians whose whereabouts are unknown.
The mayor’s wounds were not serious, the sources said, adding that he returned home after being treated in a Zahle hospital.
Upon learning of fatalities in the ambush, members of the Jaafar clan engaged in celebratory gunfire.
Mayor Hujeiri had earlier in day been involved in a hostage swap of over a dozen residents from Arsal for a member of the Moqdad clan.
Youssef Moqdad, whose kidnapping last week prompted his kinsman to grab over a dozen Arsal residents, was released to a delegation from Arsal in the morning.
Hujeiri, who was given custody of Moqdad, headed to Ras Baalbek for the hostage swap, where 16 Arsal residents were released by the Moqdad clan in exchange for their kin.
Moqdad's abduction was linked to a probe into the June killing of four Shiites in the area of Wadi Rafik.
Residents of Arsal, which borders Syria, strongly support rebels fighting forces loyal to Assad and the town has become a haven for Syrian fighters crisscrossing between the two countries via the porous border.