BEIRUT: Lebanese officials condemned Thursday’s deadly suicide bombing in Hermel as a “terrorist” act, with some calling for the formation of a government to stabilize the country.
President Michel Sleiman denounced the “terrorist bombing” that ripped through a bustling residential and commercial square in the center of the northeastern town Thursday morning. The blast killed five, including the bomber, and wounded 42.
“Strengthening Lebanon against these terrorist groups requires solidarity between the leaders and the people and requires the swift formation of a national unity Cabinet that can confront these challenges and dangers,” the president said.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said such “terrorist acts carry evil for the country and aim to tamper with the lives and possessions of the Lebanese.”
“Let us all unite and keep the hand of evil off Lebanon,” he added.
The bombing has been claimed by the Nusra Front in Lebanon – an offshoot of the radical rebel group in Syria.
Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam described the attack as a “shameful terrorist act” and called on the security forces to “exhaust all efforts” to find the perpetrators and punish them.
“The hand of terrorism extends once again to a dear area in Lebanon to kill innocent civilians as part of a strife scheme to ruin the country’s security and stability,” Salam said.
The U.S. Embassy urged all parties to be calm following the “terrorist bombing.”
“We support the government of Lebanon’s efforts to conduct a thorough investigation,” it said on its Twitter account.
Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani said the bombing was a “criminal act” and called on Lebanese to remain unified in the face of such attacks. “The wisdom and unity of the Lebanese [should be] the real response to the series of explosions aimed at dividing their country,” the mufti added.
Also condemning the bombing, the Future bloc said the bombing was “a favor for the enemies of Lebanon who seek to damage stability and co-existence” in the country.
The bloc also called for those behind the blast to be punished, and for Lebanon to distance itself from regional turmoil.
“The true national political activity is done by preventing the country from sliding into the conflicts surrounding it and closing the doors of Lebanon in the face of dangers and evils,” the bloc said.
March 14 parties argue that Hezbollah’s participation in fighting in Syria has dragged the conflict into Lebanon, resulting in the recent wave of bombings.
But Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt said justifying such acts was “political stupidity.”
“Terrorism does not differentiate between those who are innocent and not innocent and it seems it will strike again. Justifying [such acts] is meaningless and is a kind of political stupidity,” Jumblatt told Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV.
He said condemnation was not enough, and called for coordination between security agencies in Lebanon to combat terrorism.
Hezbollah MP Nawar Saheli, who visited the blast site, said Hermel would continue to support the resistance despite the attacks:
“Hermel, which has been hit by hundreds of rockets fired by terrorist and takfiri groups, will stick to its stance in support of the resistance.”