BEIRUT: The U.N. Security Council appealed to the Lebanese people to preserve national unity despite consistent attempts to undermine the country’s stability, in the wake of the deadly bombing in the northeastern city of Hermel that was claimed by an Al-Qaeda-linked group.
Both the U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the Security Council strongly condemned the “heinous” terrorist attack late Saturday in Hermel, a town where Hezbollah has a strong support base.
In a press statement issued in New York, the 15- member body said “the members of the Security Council underline the need to bring the perpetrators to justice.”
The Council members also reaffirmed the need to combat terrorism in all its forms and manifestations in accordance with the United Nations Charter and all obligations under international law.
They stressed “the importance for all Lebanese parties to respect Lebanon's policy of disassociation and to refrain from any involvement in the Syrian crisis, consistent with their commitment in the Baabda Declaration.”
The Baabda Declaration is a pact between Lebanese rivals with the aim of distancing Lebanon from regional crises, particularly in neighboring Syria. The deal was breached after Hezbollah sent fighters to Syria to back its ally President Bashar Assad.
A separate statement issued by Ban's spokesperson echoed the Council's condemnation as well as the body’s call for the “perpetrators of this crime and all other acts of terrorism” to be brought to justice.
“The recent escalation in acts of terrorism and violence in Lebanon is of grave concern,” said the statement.
It added that Ban reiterated his call on all Lebanese “to rally behind their State institutions, including the army and security forces, as the best means to confront such unacceptable and indiscriminate actions and to safeguard their country's security and stability.”
Security sources told The Daily Star Saturday the attack at a gas station in Hermel was the work of a suicide bomber. The blast killed four people, including the bomber, and wounded 23 others.
Lebanon has seen an increase in bombings where Hezbollah enjoys strong support, including in Hermel and the southern suburbs of Beirut.
Al-Qaeda linked groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks.
The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon also condemned the Hermel bombing, the second in the northeastern region in just over two weeks, and extended its condolences to the victims and their families.
“We regret that the people of Hermel have once again been subjected to an act of reprehensible terrorism,” the Embassy said in a statement Saturday.
“We urge all parties to exercise restraint and refrain from contributing to the cycle of violence,” the statement said.
The Embassy also renewed its call for the full implementation of the Baabda Declaration, U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, and the Taef Accord.
The bombing was claimed by the Nusra Front in Lebanon, which has also claimed two other attacks in Lebanon, citing Hezbollah’s military intervention in Syria.
Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zohbi said the attack only benefited Israel.
“The attack is similar to other terrorist attacks against Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, the beneficiary of which one,” Zohbi told al-Mayadeen television channel.
“Although several terrorist groups from the same background are behind such blasts, the Israeli enemy is the first and last beneficiary of such bombings,” he said.
British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher said the aim of the bombing was to create disunity.
“More sickening news from Hermel. Thoughts with families and emergency services. Killers aim to create disunity. Must not let them succeed,” Fletcher said on his twitter account.