SIDON, Lebanon: Civil Defense teams rescued a Syrian refugee family that had taken refuge in a mosque that caught fire Wednesday in what authorities suspect was an act of arson.
The fire erupted in the Rawda Mosque in the coastal city of Sidon, destroying the entire second floor of the building, including the library, and the rooms and courtyard where worshipers gather.
"I was shocked when I saw heavy smoke rising from the room next to ours before it turned into fire," said Hamzah al-Sheikh, who was rescued along with his three children.
Fire fighters struggled to put out the fire as large plumes of smoke covered the city's skyline.
Internal Security Forces launched an investigation into the incident and summoned the mosque’s janitor for questioning.
Police suspect arson rather than an electrical fire, as was originally presumed, a security source told The Daily Star.
Surveillance cameras placed on a building nearby showed a man placing a ladder behind the mosque and climbing to the second floor, the source said. The video reportedly shows flames erupting from the building seconds after the man climbed down and escaped.