BEIRUT: A Lebanese man was stabbed to death and his mother severely injured by two Syrian refugees who tried to rob them in Abadieh, in the mountains east of Beirut, triggering anti-Syrian sentiments in the town, its mayor told The Daily Star Friday.
“The culprits were two Syrian refugees who knew the victim and were visiting him last night, when they committed the ugly crime,” Adel Najd said.
The mayor said the 26-year-old victim, identified as Sleiman Abu Hamra, died shortly after being stabbed several times, while his mother, Hala Hassan, was in a critical condition in hospital.
Najd said the killers were arrested as they attempted to escape.
“Screams and the noise of altercation alerted neighbors and passersby who were able, with the municipality police, to arrest the killers before they tried to jump in their car,” Najd said, stressing that robbery was the crime’s motive.
The Internal Security Forces said they arrested the suspects who stabbed the 51-year-old woman and killed her son, who was stabbed in his neck and back.
The two were identified by their initials and they were aged 20 and 21.
The first suspect was hiding on the roof of the building where the crime took place, while the other was at the entrance with his clothes drenched in blood, the ISF said.
The two confessed to killing the man and attempting to kill his mother with the motive of robbery.
The incident caused uproar in the village, including calls to evict all Syrian refugees and workers, estimated to be more than 700, Najd said.
The Army, police, local figures and the Progressive Socialist Party, which has a strong popular base in the village, intervened immediately to calm down tensions and prevent any violent repercussions.
“The fact that the criminals were apprehended somehow eased the tensions. We were firm in assuring that the refugees should not pay the price for the felony committee by two reckless people. And, fortunately, no Syrian was attacked or harmed,” Najd said.
A PSP statement condemned the “ugly crime,” calling on the victim’s relatives and the residents of Abadieh to exercise self-restraint and avoid taking security into their hands.
“It is important to keep the crime within its private framework and avoid generalizing such an incident on the innocent Syrian refugees,” the statement said.
“We renew our trust in the Lebanese state and its security and legal institutions and place this issue in the hands of justice, while demanding the harshest sentences to be served against the criminals."
Anti-Syria feelings have been mounting following fighting between the Army and Syria militants in the northeast Bekaa town of Arsal last month, in which 19 soldiers were killed.
Sentiments further escalated when takfiri militants from ISIS beheaded a Lebanese soldier and handed over his body to the authorities earlier this week. He was among 29 Army troops and policemen held hostage by ISIS and the Nusra Front.
Lebanon hosts the largest Syrian refugee community of Syria’s neighboring countries, estimated to have exceeded 1.3 million.
This article was amended on Friday, September 05 2014
In an earlier version of this story, The Daily Star reported that security sources said Hala Hasan was killed in the incident, however, Mayor Adnan Majed has informed the paper that Hasan is in critical condition in the hospital.