BEIRUT: Lebanese officials condemned the explosions outside two mosques in the northern city of Tripoli Friday, saying they were aiming to incite strife in the country.
President Michel Sleiman denounced the explosions in Tripoli describing the incidents as a “massacre” and said they were part of a series of blasts targeting the entire country.
“President Michel Sleiman voiced fierce condemnation of the massacre which is part of a series of bombings aiming to provoke strife and target the entire nation,” a statement from the president’s office said.
He also urged security and judicial agencies to exert maximum efforts to uncover the perpetrators and called on the citizens to be “alert and vigilant” when confronting the enemies of Lebanon.
The twin explosions targeted separate mosques in Tripoli after Friday prayers, killing at least 27 and wounding over 350 people.
The explosions occurred within minutes of each other.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the attacks were aimed at provoking the residents of Tripoli to take reactionary measures.
“Criminal hands targeted the city of Tripoli once again today, in a clear message aiming to incite strife and drive Tripoli and its residents to make retaliatory moves,” Mikati was quoted by his office as saying.
“But Tripoli and its people will prove once again that they are stronger than this conspiracy and will not allow strife to undermine their will, faith in God and the nation,” the prime minister, who hails from the city, added.
He also vowed to remain on Tripoli’s side at all times “particularly under these difficult circumstances.”
Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam said the explosions further indicate that Lebanon is passing a very dangerous phase.
"The crime in Tripoli [today] is additional proof that the situation in Lebanon has reached a very dangerous level, requiring national, security, and political action to eradicate sedition and handle political issues with the highest sense of national responsibility," Salam said in a statement.
According to the statement, upon learning of the twin bombings, the Beirut MP cut his visit to Greece short and was en route back to Lebanon.
"Targeting places of worship...did not even occur during the days of the Civil War and demonstrates the determination of the killers to provoke emotions and sense of partisanship by bringing about reactions which would serve their designs," he added.
Speaker Nabih Berri contended that the perpetrators behind the Tripoli blasts were also the ones who planned the recent car bombing in Beirut's southern suburbs.
"The twin blasts are the work of the same murderous hand which left its black fingerprints on the bodies of the [dead] in the southern suburbs bombing," Berri was quoted as saying in the statement.
The speaker also called for citizens to be cautious to “prevent Lebanon’s enemy from seizing the opportunity.”