BEIRUT: A deadly twin car bomb attack near the Iranian Cultural Center in the Beirut district of Bir Hasan Wednesday drew national and international condemnation.
“We got the message, and we will respond by uniting [our ranks] , adhering to civil peace and rallying around the [Lebanese] Army and security forces that have received orders to arrest the perpetrators and bring them to justice quickly,” Prime Minister Tammam Salam said.
"Amid the positive atmosphere that accompanied the birth of the government and had a positive impact on the Lebanese, terrorism dealt Lebanon a new blow by the bombing of a safe civilian area, in a message reflecting the insistence of the forces of evil to inflict harm on Lebanon and its people,” Salam added.
Salam announced Saturday a government of "national interest" after ten months of political deadlock.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri echoed Salam's message.
"If the objective of [Wednesday’s] terrorist attack is a message to the Lebanese that Lebanon will not be safe from terrorism after the formation of the government," Hariri said in a statement. "We stress more than ever before the importance of unity among the Lebanese in the face of terrorism and all suspicious attempts to ignite [sectarian] strife and torpedo efforts to safeguard stability."
He called for pursuing the perpetrators and cracking down on terrorist hideouts.
Several ministers from Salam’s newly-appointed Cabinet also denounced the bombings after inspecting the scene of the blasts.
Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk vowed to take stringent measures along Lebanon’s porous border with Syria to protect against the infiltration of car bombs, adding that stolen cars from Lebanon are being rigged in Syria and reimported into Lebanon.
He urged Lebanese political officials to cooperate with security forces to end what he called the “the dens of death” in the Bekaa Valley.
Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun wrote on twitter: “No doubt that the terrorists resented the formation of the government, which has pledged to confront them, so they responded with this attack.”
For his part, Environment Minister Mohammad Machnouk said the bombings “will not affect" the government's work because the Lebanese "are depending on it."
Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya MP Imad Hout called on the new government to commit to the Baabda Declaration which calls for distancing Lebanon from the Syria crisis.
“The blast, which struck Bir Hasan today, emphasizes once more that the problem with these explosions is not only that there is a lack of agreement among Lebanese, but that [putting a stop to these attacks] should address the [root] causes [by] closing permanently the Lebanese border [to prevent] intervention in Syrian affairs from both sides,” Hout said.
Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar backed his party’s decision not to withdraw its fighters from Syria.
"This heinous crime committed by takfiri terrorists is part of a series of terrorist crimes against the Arab and Muslim world as well as the overall plot aimed at damaging the social fabric and pluralism of the Arab and Muslim worlds,” Ammar said.
“Hezbollah will not withdraw from a battle it deems strategic,” he insisted.
The Future parliamentary bloc renewed its call for Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria “to eliminate the excuses” for car bombings and "to protect Lebanon."
“Terrorism is affecting all the Lebanese people and therefore Hezbollah’s withdrawal from Syria is [sought] in order to protect the homeland and the Lebanese by eliminating excuses [used by] terrorists and criminals,” the bloc said in a statement following its weekly meeting.
Al-Qaeda linked groups have claimed the recent wave of bombings across Lebanon, particularly against predominantly-Shiite areas in Beirut’s southern suburbs and the northeastern town of Hermel, and vowed to continue their attacks until Hezbollah quits Syria.
In a Tweet, the U.S. Embassy condemned the “terrorist” bombings in Bir Hasan and offered condolences to the victims and their families.
U.N. Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly called on the Lebanese to remain united in the face of such “appalling and indiscriminate terrorist actions.”
He also urged Lebanese to “build on the positive step taken a few days ago with the formation of a new government by rallying around their state institutions, including the Army and security forces, to safeguard their country’s security and stability.”
Plumbly reiterated the international community’s commitment to supporting Lebanon in these efforts.
U.S. Ambassador David Hale strongly condemned the bombings and expressed condolences to the the families of the victims.
On the embassy’s Twitter feed, Hale said his country stood firmly with the new government, the people of Lebanon as well as security forces in combating terrorism.
“These abhorrent acts of #terror threaten principles of #stability #freedom, & #safety that the #Lebanese have worked so hard to uphold,” he said.
Hale who met earlier with Foreign Affairs Minister Gebran Bassil also urged all parties to refrain from retaliatory acts that contribute to the cycle of violence.