BEIRUT: Lebanese officials and politicians condemned Thursday the deadly car bombing that struck the neighborhood of Haret Hreik in the southern suburbs of Beirut and urged rival parties to engage in dialogue to counter the growing threat of terrorism in the country.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said terrorism had once against struck the southern suburbs of the capital with the aim of destabilizing the country.
“Terrorism ... doesn’t differentiate between the Lebanese but seeks to destabilize the country as [the perpetrators] planned and executed a despicable conspiracy to drown Lebanon in strife,” the prime minister said in a statement.
“I call on everyone to be wise more than at any other time and overcome political disputes so that we can meet and engage in dialogue,” he added, urging them to abandon “the logic of exclusion.”
Mikati has called for the formation of an inclusive government.
President Michel Sleiman, who offered his condolences to the victims of Thursday’s blast, followed up on the ongoing investigation into the deadly explosion.
"[I] affirm the importance of solidarity among the Lebanese who should recognize the danger facing Lebanon and engage in dialogue to protect the country in the face of conspiracies aimed at dealing a blow to stability,” Sleiman said.
Speaker Nabih Berri said the car bombing in Haret Hreik was part of the "series of conspiracies targeting Lebanon and its national unity.”
He also claimed those behind the attack were also responsible for last week's assassination of former Minister Mohammad Shatah.
“This crime is aimed at terrorizing citizens, misleading, and creating the impression that there are many hands committing the crimes,” he said.
At least four people were killed and dozens others were wounded in a car bomb in Beirut’s southern suburb of Haret Hreik, where Hezbollah enjoys broad support.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said the victims of the explosion were also victims of Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria.
“Terrorism, regardless of its various faces and sources, can only be described as criminal. And the terrorism that is targeting civilians, innocent people and safe areas, is devoid of any human feelings and is a demonic act that aims at claiming lives and spreading devastation and destruction,” he said, according to a statement from his office.
“The innocent victims in Beirut's southern suburbs are victims of criminal and terrorist acts that have been targeting them for months. They are at the same time victims of [Hezbollah’s] involvement in foreign wars, particularly in the Syrian war,” he added.
Hariri, a staunch critic of Hezbollah’s military presence in Syria, said the car bombing was an occasion to recognize the need to keep Lebanon neutral from regional conflicts.
"Insisting on involving Lebanon in the heart of the regional storm [Syria] is the danger that is luring terrorism to our cities,” he said.
“The only way to defend Lebanon is to work on protecting national unity, recognizing the role of the state and its legitimate institutions in running the country,” Hariri said.