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Politicians: Lebanon must unite to avoid ‘sea of blood’

  • Scenes from the explosion at the Lebanese police checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway Friday, June 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Nidal Solh)

BEIRUT: Officials flocked to offer condemnations and condolences over a suicide attack that targeted the Dahr al-Baidar police checkpoint on a major highway Friday morning.

March 14 officials said the bombing was among the consequences of Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria, while March 8 rivals stressed that terrorism targets the entirety of Lebanon.

“[The attack] was aimed at tightening the screws on the security and safety of the Lebanese, and [strived to] take the country down the destructive path overtaking the region,” former Prime Minister Saad Hariri said in a statement.

The March 14 leader called on all Lebanese, irrespective of sect, to exercise the highest degree of caution, urging citizens to preserve national unity and refrain from fighting in the face of conspiracies aimed at sparking sectarian feuds in the region.

“Sending young men into battle, whether internally or externally, will only lead to more divisions and will invite extreme sectarian reactions,” Hariri said.

Hariri also offered condolences to those killed in the blast and hailed security forces for taking the necessary measures to ensure the safety and security of the country.

Security chief Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim narrowly escaped the suicide car bombing that killed an ISF officer and wounded 32 people at a Lebanese police checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway in the Bekaa Valley.

The March 14 bloc released a statement saying, “We have repeatedly warned Hezbollah that interference in Syria would invite terrorism into Lebanon,” referring to the party’s military support of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. The bloc reiterated its demand for the immediate withdrawal of Hezbollah’s forces from the civil war next door.

Head of the Future bloc MP Fouad Siniora stressed the need for “concerted efforts by all Lebanese people to address the means of those committing terrorist acts, as well as work on protecting Lebanon from the evils of these groups, including refraining from engaging in the problems of the region so as not to open the gates of hell in Lebanon.”

Hezbollah also denounced Friday’s attack, saying it targeted Lebanon and its security and stability.

In a statement, the party called on Lebanese “to unite in the face of the terrorist plot that was targeting them, and to be aware of the risks to their country.”

“Everyone is in the same trench,” Industry Minister Hussein Hajj Hasan, from Hezbollah’s Loyalty to the Resistance parliamentary bloc, said in a television interview, adding that “everyone is against terrorism, and we are in a moment that unites political views.”

For his part, Secretary-General of the Arab League Nabil Elaraby expressed the body’s support for the Lebanese government’s fight against terrorism, stressing “the need for the international community to stand by Lebanon and provide all of the support to the Lebanese Army, and help it to conduct its national duties at this critical stage.”

United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly emphasized the “importance of the work that the Army and security forces were carrying out to sustain the calm that has prevailed in Lebanon recently.” He added that the U.N. would maintain solidarity with Lebanon’s government and people in standing up to the threat of terrorism.

The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon condemned the attack, noting “the United States will continue to stand with Lebanon against terrorism.”

The French Embassy announced its support for local institutions and forces responsible for security in Lebanon. It also called on French citizens in Lebanon to exercise caution and stay home

Change and Reform bloc leader Michel Aoun urged the Lebanese to remain calm and maintain solidarity, stressing the importance of cooperating with the security forces “to strike terror and prevent [extremists] from achieving their goals.”

The head of the Lebanese Forces, Samir Geagea, denounced the bombing, placing it in the context of the conflict washing over the region.

“The region is boiling and Lebanon is not an island isolated from the ocean,” he said, stressing the need to “protect constitutional institutions, including the presidency, Parliament and the government, and to ensure good performance.”

MP Qassem Hashem, from Speaker Nabih Berri’s Liberation and Development parliamentary bloc, agreed that Friday’s suicide bombing targeted all of Lebanon.

“It is a terrorist act and an episode in a series of terrorist attacks that terrorist groups are working through to drag Lebanon into a sea of blood,” Hashem said.

He also urged the Lebanese to open the door toward understanding, dialogue and agreement regarding the elections.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 21, 2014, on page 2.
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Summary

March 14 officials said the bombing was among the consequences of Hezbollah's involvement in Syria, while March 8 rivals stressed that terrorism targets the entirety of Lebanon.

Hezbollah also denounced Friday's attack, saying it targeted Lebanon and its security and stability.

United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly emphasized the "importance of the work that the Army and security forces were carrying out to sustain the calm that has prevailed in Lebanon recently". He added that the U.N. would maintain solidarity with Lebanon's government and people in standing up to the threat of terrorism.

The French Embassy announced its support for local institutions and forces responsible for security in Lebanon.


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