Lebanon News

More casualties in north Lebanon, army enacts 'exceptional' measures

TRIPOLI, Lebanon: The Lebanese Army and police enacted exceptional measures Thursday to impose security in Tripoli, north Lebanon, after sniper fire wounded 12 people, including two soldiers.

A 13-year-old boy who was reportedly killed by sniper fire earlier Thursday turned out to have been severely wounded and currently lies in a coma.

Prime Najib Minister Mikati called on security forces to erect checkpoints in Tripoli and arrest anyone carrying arms in public during a meeting at his residence in the city.

Mikati convened the meeting, which was attended by officials from the northern city as well as security chiefs, after sporadic clashes and sniper fire violated the shaky truce between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.

The army along with Internal Security Forces began patrolling the city in armored vehicles with orders to stop breaches of security by all necessary means.

Throughout the morning, the Lebanese Army responded to sporadic sniper fire in several neighborhoods of Tripoli as tensions remained high following three days of bloody clashes. The majority of snipers are located in the Talaat al-Omari area, situated between the rival neighborhoods.

Three rocket-propelled grenades were fired on Syria Street separating the rival neighborhoods earlier in the day.

Social Affairs Minister Wael Abu Faour, also the head of the Higher Council for Childhood, said the council was following up with events in Tripoli with “great concern and discontent,” with regards to clashes claiming the lives of innocent children.

“Keeping children away from armed clashes and protecting them from its repercussions is a moral and legal duty stipulated by the international convention for children's human rights ... and Vienna convention,” Abu Faour said in a statement.

He urged rival forces to immediately cease fire and create a “peaceful environment needed for the psychological, social and health developments of children.”

The fighting in Tripoli erupted after an Islamist supporter of the Syrian opposition, Shadi Mawlawi, 25, was arrested Saturday and accused of belonging to a "terrorist organization."

Mawlawi’s controversial arrest sparked three-day clashes in Tripoli between opponents and supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

Especially galling to Mawlawi's supporters was that General Security personnel dressed in civilian clothes lured him to a social services center belonging to Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi with promises of medical care, only to arrest him.

His arrest also prompted families of Islamist prisoners to hold a sit-in in Nour Sqaure, also known as Abdel-Hamid Karami Square, demanding the swift trial or release of their relatives.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel announced Thursday that Mawlawi would be reinterrogated in the presence of his lawyers, who were not allowed to attend the initial session.

Charbel had said Wednesday that he he reached a settlement with the families of prisoners after promising them speedy trials to finalize outstanding cases of more than 300 prisoners.

The prisoners were arrested on charges of fighting or aiding fighters during the 2007 armed clashes between the Lebanese Army and the Palestinian militant group Fatah al-Islam in the refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared, in the north of the country.





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