BEIRUT: Lebanese figures and foreign officials Tuesday condemned the deadly car bombing that struck Beirut’s southern suburbs, calling for the quick formation of a government in order to prevent similar attacks in the future.
President Michel Sleiman denounced the attack and said the solution to “facing this phenomenon is through the Lebanese being aware of their fate and common livelihood.”
According to Sleiman, “national unity would fight the likelihood of terrorism, which should be fought hard and relentlessly.”
He said the world had grown divided, with radicals rejecting and isolating everyone else.
The U.S. Embassy in Beirut released a statement denouncing the bombing and what it called “abhorrent acts of terrorism” that undermined peace and unity in the country. It also reiterated U.S. support for Lebanon’s security forces and called for the Baabda Declaration to be upheld.
The French Foreign Ministry also released a statement condemning the attack and reaffirming its support for Lebanese institutions.
The statement “called on all parties to work in favor of stability in Lebanon and not have it be caught in the cycle of violence.”
The Iranian Foreign Ministry also slammed the attack, describing it as a “terrorist, inhumane act.”
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said it was necessary for the Lebanese to unite during such precarious times.
“Let us hasten our convergence to one table so we can be up to speed with these difficult circumstances and the dangers we are facing,” he said.
“No sooner had the southern suburb of Beirut [tended to] its wounds from the terrorist attack that happened not too long ago than it has been again targeted by a new terrorist attack which has resulted in new martyrs and casualties.”
The suspected suicide attack in Haret Hreik killed at least four people and wounded 34 others. It happened on the bustling street of Al-Arid, just meters from the site of a Jan. 2 attack which killed five.
Urging awareness in the wake of the bombings, Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam said, “The killers’ insistence on repeating their [crimes] at the same place ... calls for ultimate awareness and wisdom.”
He said terrorism should be confronted by “strengthening the internal front at the political and security levels.”
Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt warned that Lebanon would witness more bomb attacks carried out by takfiri groups.
“ Lebanon has entered an episode of madness,” Jumblatt said, warning that radical Sunni Islamists had initiated a bombing campaign.
Meanwhile, Hezbollah vowed to continue its fight against what it called Israeli-backed takfiri groups.
Speaking at the site of the blast, Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar said the “terrorist attack” revealed the other side of Israel.
“The Israeli enemy has another face: the takfiri face that is trying to undermine the resistance and coexistence,” he said.
MP Fouad Siniora, the head of the Future Movement, condemned the blast, urging the various Lebanese political parties to respect the policy of disassociation from the Syrian war in order to “spare Lebanon from woe.”
Also denouncing the attack, Maronite Patriarch Beshara Rai said: “National unity is the only deterrent to such crimes that move from one area to the other.”
The patriarch also called on individuals “to turn to God” in order to “give priority to the language of goodness, dialogue and brotherhood over the sounds of evil, violence and murder.”
Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani condemned the “criminal bombing” and said the recent attacks across Lebanon were against the rules of Islam.
“Islam has nothing to do with such criminal actions; the explosions in Lebanon are against the principles and rules of the Islamic religion,” he said in a statement.
Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel called for “a national conference to fortify Lebanon in the face of takfiri movements,” which he said were aimed at “sowing confusion in the country and destabilizing the Lebanese partnership that we have lived with for decades.”
Gemayel also said there was a need for a unifying government to be created “to be able to respond to these crises and tragedies.”
Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea said that offering condolences after each criminal terrorist attack did not help the victims or the country, and called instead for action to control the situation along the border.
“The Lebanese government should act immediately and without any reluctance to end the security chaos at the border with Syria and prevent fighters from coming into Lebanon and vice versa,” he said.
“This can be done by deploying the Army along the border with the help of the international troops [UNIFIL], in accordance with [United Nations] Resolution 1701,” the LF leader added.
Striking a similar tone, head of the Free Patriotic Movement Michel Aoun called on security forces to “combat terrorism at its origins, and not after it arrives.”
Caretaker Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi said that Lebanon had turned into a “jihadist” country, adding, “we have imported terrorism to our country, and today we receive the result of what we have imported.”
Terrorism “does not differentiate between one religion and the other or a sect and the other,” he said.
Caretaker Health Minister Ali Hasan Khalil said such a “cowardly” act “should push all Lebanese to unite and take responsibility for creating more solidarity.”