BEIRUT: The suicide attack that targeted an Army post in northeastern Lebanon Saturday night drew condemnations from far and wide over the weekend, with the U.N. vowing to continue its support for Lebanon and its military during “these difficult times.”
Prime Minister Tammam Salam condemned the suicide bombing, calling on the public to rally around the Lebanese Army.
"This is a terrorist attack and targeting the military institution in any area in Lebanon surpasses an ordinary crime because it aims to serve a blow to the nation’s main pillar,” Salam said in a statement.
"I call on everyone to rally around the Army and security forces, which will always be the backbone of the country,” he added.
A suicide bomber attacked an Army post in Hermel Saturday evening, killing three people, including two soldiers, and wounding 17 others.
The Lebanon branch of the Nusra Front, the radical rebel group fighting in Syria, claimed responsibility for the attack citing Hezbollah’s role in the war-torn country.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri phoned Army Commander Gen. Jean Kahwagi and offered his condolences over the death of the two soldiers.
During the phone call, Hariri expressed his full solidarity with the Lebanese Army and security forces in their mission to maintain security and stability.
Hariri, the head of the Future Movement, also said that the fallen soldiers were the martyrs of the whole country.
Interior Minister Nuhad Mashnouk reiterated his party's demand that Hezbollah withdraw from Syria, adding that such a terrorist attack should inspire Lebanese authorities to cooperate with the international community to combat rising terrorism.
"The attack should prompt the concerned political groups to contribute on the political level to shutting down the [smuggling routes] between Lebanon and Syria and reconsider their stance from the ongoing war in Syria,” Mashnouk said in a statement, referring to Hezbollah.
"This cowardly terrorist attack will not deter us from continuing our efforts in fighting terrorism and terrorists who are trying to harm Lebanon and incite strife," he added.
"[Such terrorism] requires us to cooperate with the international community and its experts to combat this blind takfiri terror who does not understand anything but killing,” Mashnouk, a Future Movement MP, said.
For its part, Hezbollah said Saturday’s attack demonstrated that such terrorism does not discriminate among Lebanese and poses a threat to the entire country.
“This latest crime is only proof that ... terrorism does not need justifications or reasons to carry out its crimes. It kills, slaughters, marginalizes and destroys without discriminating between soldiers and civilians or between people belonging to one sect or another in Lebanon,” Hezbollah said in a statement.
“Such an approach is the enemy of every Lebanese, regardless of its sect or neighborhoods. It is a danger to all of us, even those trying to justify the crimes as reactions to some other acts,” it added.
Hezbollah also said it saluted the heroism of the Lebanese Army which, it said, is manning “deadly checkpoints.”
The United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly strongly condemned the attack and extended his condolences to the Lebanese army and to the families of the victims.
“The Special Coordinator said the tireless efforts and sacrifice of the Lebanese army and the security forces to detain terrorist suspects and prevent such attacks were worthy of the highest praise,” his office said.
Plumbly also said the recurrence of acts of terrorism should strengthen support for state institutions, particularly the Army and security forces.
“The Special Coordinator reiterated the U.N.'s support for Lebanon and its army during these difficult times and hoped that all those responsible for today's bombing and all other acts of terrorism will be brought to justice as soon as possible,” according to his office.
British Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher also condemned the attack, saying his country would help rebuild the checkpoint and offer protective kits to the Army.
“Appalled that our [Lebanese] Army allies [were] hit by cowardly terrorism tonight. We'll help rebuild Hermel checkpoint+offer $500,000 of protective kit,” Fletcher tweeted.
The U.S. Embassy to Lebanon also condemned the bombing, saying an attack on the Army was "an attack on all Lebanese."
On its Twitter feed, the embassy said Washington’s support for the Army was steadfast, expressing solidarity with the military on the “front lines of the battle against terror in Lebanon.”