Lebanon News

Groom shoots photographer, relatives attack hospital staff

BEIRUT: Several wedding guests attacked and physically assaulted employees and doctors treating a man who had just been brought into Mount Lebanon’s Bhannes Medical Center, in the latest of a string of attacks on hospitals. The injured man, a wedding photographer, had been hit by a stray bullet as a result of celebratory gunfire at the wedding ceremony Friday night in the Metn town of Bteghrin. A video of the groom firing an AK-47 went viral Sunday. As the groom was firing, he lost control of the gun and bullets haphazardly showered the venue, striking one of the photographers in the stomach.

“Relatives of the groom who [appeared to have shot] the photographer brought the victim to the hospital,” Executive Director at Bhannes Medical Center Michel Chahine told The Daily Star. Upon arriving at the hospital, some of the groom’s relatives stormed through the hospital doors and began hitting the doctor tending to the victim.

One employee suffered a broken eye socket and will undergo surgery in the coming days, Chahine said.

“I honestly do not have an explanation for what they did because they were shooting [guns] at the wedding and when they brought a victim of their actions [to the hospital], they began hitting those trying to tend to the victim,” he said.

When asked if there was security at the hospital, Chahine said it had not been required because of the relative calm of the area. “Our doors are open to those in need, first of all. Second of all, we are located in the mountains, in a village, unlike [hospitals] in Beirut.” He added that the assailants’ identities were known and that it was now the Internal Security Forces’ responsibility to apprehend them.

However, he said the board of the hospital was set to meet Monday in response to the situation and that “most likely, we will add some security,” though he added that the state was responsible for protecting hospitals and their employees.

President of the Private Hospitals Syndicate Sleiman Haroun condemned the acts of violence, saying, “Enough is enough.” Haroun said they would wait a few days but that “if nothing is done [by security forces or the government], then we will take a strong position.”

“We will no longer accept this. I am not going to call anyone out for being responsible, because they know who they are,” he said, adding “this time things will be different.”

Haroun was referring to the string of attacks hospitals have suffered recently. In May, a man barged into the Lebanese Canadian Hospital in Beirut’s Sin al-Fil, smashing glass and other objects while screaming and shouting. The man was reportedly upset about the death of his brother at the hospital. Haroun said no one had been arrested in connection with the incident. “No one was arrested and nothing happened after the previous incidents. This is what is keeping the situation out of control,” he told The Daily Star.

Chahine said the justice and health ministers both contacted him to denounce Friday’s attack. He added that the hospitals syndicate would come out with a strong position soon and that Deputy Prime Minister and Health Minister Ghassan Hasbani would hold a news conference Monday following up on the incident.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 03, 2017, on page 2.

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