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Condemnations of Tripoli attacks flood in

MP Bahia Hariri, left, and former head of ISF Gen. Ashraf Rifi check the site of the explosions in Tripoli, Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013. (The Daily Star/Stringer)

BEIRUT: International condemnation of last week’s twin bombings in Tripoli continued to flood in over the weekend as Lebanese politicians and religious figures denounced the blasts which killed dozens in the northern city.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius telephoned caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati Sunday to extend their condolences.

Erdogan expressed “his solidarity with Lebanon in these difficult circumstances,” according to a statement from Mikati’s office.

Twin car bombs ripped through two mosques in Tripoli during Friday prayers, killing at least 47 people and wounding over 500.

The deadly attack came eight days after a car bomb exploded in the bustling neighborhood of Ruwaiss in Beirut’s southern suburbs, killing 30 people.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council condemned the two bomb attacks as “acts of terrorism,” and reiterated that such acts should be combated in accordance with international law, according to a statement.

The U.N. Security Council also appealed to the Lebanese to “preserve national unity in the face of attempts to undermine the country’s stability.”

For his part, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Abbas Araqchi strongly condemned the “terrorist blasts” in Tripoli and voiced sympathy for the families of the victims, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported.

“Undoubtedly, dirty hands of the Zionists have come out from the sleeve of irresponsible takfiri and radical groups who intend to sow the seeds of sedition and damage national unity and peaceful co-existence among different Lebanese ethnic groups, especially the Muslim sects,” Araqchi said.

Arab League chief Nabil Elarabi also denounced the twin bombings and called on the Lebanese to resort to “the language of reason and brotherhood, in order to ward off this conspiracy to ignite strife.”

Jordan’s Information Minister Mohammad Momani denounced the twin blasts, describing the attacks as acts of terrorism that threatened regional and international security.

“The terrorist explosions that targeted Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques and the one in Beirut’s southern suburbs a week ago prove that terrorism has no religion and is the most dangerous threat to regional and international peace and security,” Momani said in a statement.

For his part, Brazilian Ambassador to Lebanon Affonso Emilio de Alencastro Massot said he had received the news of the explosions with “dismay and outrage.”

“Brazil associates itself with the words of the U.N. secretary-general, Ban Ki-moon ... [who] condemned the attacks and stressed the need to bring the perpetrators to justice,” he said in a statement.

Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai also condemned the attack.

“We strongly condemn the horrible explosions in Tripoli, the capital’s north, on Friday which killed innocent citizens,” Rai said during his Sunday sermon in Diman, north Lebanon.

The patriarch called on residents of both Tripoli and Ruwaiss to “be alert and patient,” commit to the principle of national unity and support the Army and security agencies as the only legitimate group capable of protecting people.

Later, Rai headed to Tripoli, where he extended his condolences to the families of victims at the Rashid Karami International Fairground.

Sidon MP Bahia Hariri also visited Tripoli Sunday to inspect the site of one of the explosions and meet the city’s officials.

Al-Qaeda’s North African branch blamed Hezbollah for the attack and threatened retribution, a U.S.-based intelligence monitoring website said.

Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb tweeted that it knew “with certainty” that Hezbollah was responsible for the attacks, according to the SITE monitoring service.

“That vile party... should know that it will meet retribution soon,” AQIM said, according to SITE.

Hezbollah MP Ali Fayyad said certain Arab countries and international allies backed the blasts in Ruwaiss and Tripoli, adding that his party was able to name these countries.

“Exposing Lebanon to security [incidents] and destabilizing it is a regional Arab decision with an international hand, and some parties in Lebanon are prisoners to the political dimensions of this decision,” Fayyad said during two memorial ceremonies in the south to honor the victims of Ruwaiss.

But Future Movement MP Khaled Daher was adamant that Hezbollah was responsible for the Tripoli blasts.

“Targeting Tripoli has been a demand of [Syrian President] Bashar Assad for over a year,” Daher told a local TV station.

“The two explosions that hit Tripoli were preceded by Hezbollah Secretary-General Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah’s speech, who threatened explosions.”

Nasrallah said earlier this month that explosions similar to the one in Ruwaiss could target other areas in Lebanon.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on August 26, 2013, on page 3.

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