Lebanon News

Army kills gunman as it restores order in Beirut

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army shot and killed a man who opened fire on a military patrol as troops attempted to restore order in and around Beirut following raids of militant hideouts.

A military statement said Palestinians Ahmad and Abed Qwaider opened fire on a Lebanese Army patrol in Qasqas, prompting soldiers to return fire.

“Ahmad died as a result of his wounds,” the statement added.

Security sources told The Daily Star that Ahmad's brother was taken to the local Makassed hospital for treatment of serious wounds.

The military raids, which began around 10 a.m., were heavily concentrated in the areas of Tayyouneh, Qasqas and Beshara al-Khoury.

The Army crackdown came after six people were wounded in overnight clashes in Beirut’s Tariq al-Jdideh neighborhood following the funeral of slain police intelligence chief Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hasan.

The sources said the six men, including a Syrian and a Palestinian, were wounded in the exchanges of machine-gun fire and rocket-propelled grenades between the predominantly Sunni Tariq al-Jdideh and nearby Barbour, a neighborhood controlled by the Amal Movement and Hezbollah.

The wounded, all from Tariq al-Jadideh, were taken to the local Makassed hospital for treatment.

Fighting stopped at about 2 a.m. when the Lebanese Army managed to deploy and calm returned to the embattled areas.

Stray bullets hit several west Beirut homes outside the areas of tension.

“This is crazy. A real war was going on. My father could have been killed in his bedroom,” said Rola Riashi, a resident of Wata Mosseitbeh.

She said a stray bullet pierced her father’s bedroom window late Sunday as the family huddled together in the corner of another room for safety.

There was very little traffic on the roads of west Beirut Monday morning and many parents did not send their children to school.

The Education Ministry called on schools located in the areas of tension to make their own decision about whether to open to students.

Around midday, the Lebanese Army issued stern warnings to gunmen to withdraw from the streets or face arrest.

Troops in Qasqas and Tariq al-Jdideh were seen blaring warnings to gunmen through loudspeakers. Soon afterwards, no gunmen could be seen on the streets and the military began removing barricades used to block the roads.

Before the situation returned to normal, a Qasqas resident said she could see "a lot of gunmen in the streets and a lot of soldiers."

"We are hearing gunfire, too,” said the resident, who spoke to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.

The clashes came shortly after the funeral of Hasan, who was killed in a car bomb attack in Beirut Friday.

Many Lebanese politicians in the March 14 coalition have blamed Syria for Hasan’s killing.

Tensions remained high Monday in Tariq al-Jdideh and surrounding Sunni-dominant neighborhoods of Corniche Mazraa, Wata Mosseitbeh, Cola and the area where the Camille Chamoun Sports Stadium, commonly known as the Cite Sportive, is located in west Beirut.

Hasan, from north Lebanon’s Koura region, was close to the anti-Syrian March 14 coalition and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Police and the Lebanese Army blocked several roads of the capital early Monday, including Salim Salam passageway, for “security considerations,” according to one source. The roads were then re-opened around 10 a.m., with security forces patrolling the area.

The Beirut fighting coincided with armed clashes that raged well into the morning hours between the neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabanneh in Tripoli, north Lebanon.

The Tripoli clashes tapered off Monday morning, but heavy fighting renewed around midday.

Security sources in Tripoli said at least three people were killed and 17 wounded in the first round of clashes Sunday, triggered after Akkar Mufti Sheikh Ossama Rifai delivered a fiery speech during Hasan’s funeral and leading to the death of a 15-year-old resident of Jabal Mohsen.

Rola Fakhro’s death sparked armed clashes between supporters of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh, whose residents tend to support the uprising against President Bashar Assad.





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