4 killed, 5 injured in post General Hassan – Beirut bombing assassination violence grips Lebanon


JNN 22 Oct 2012 Beirut : In Lebanon, at least four people have been killed in violent clashes in Tripoli and five others wounded in the capital Beirut.Tensions remain high in Lebanon following attempts to create divisions after the recent bombing that killed the country’s intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut.

Lebanese troopers clashed with unidentified armed men who blocked a road in the capital’s Tariq Jdideh district on Monday morning.

The government forces opened fire on the militants after coming under their attack. There have been no reports of casualties or damages.

On Sunday night, violent clashes also reportedly took place in other areas of the capital as well as in the city of Tripoli in the north of the country.

Several people were wounded in Beirut during the overnight clashes between security forces and protestors. At least three people were killed and 26 others wounded in the clashes in Tripoli.
Reports also say some elements of the opposition March 14 Movement are trying to sow discord among the country’s political players after the assassination of al-Hassan.

During the funeral procession held for the former intelligence chief in Beirut, the March 14 alliance called for the resignation of the government, holding Prime Minister Najib Mikati responsible for the assassination.

However, many analysts blame Israel for the deadly attack as Hassan recently took an Israeli spy cell in Lebanon apart.

The 47-year-old was killed in a car bomb explosion in a Christian neighborhood in the capital on Friday. The attack also claimed seven other lives.

The Lebanese resistance movement of Hezbollah has condemned the attack, describing it as an attempt to destabilize Lebanon and target its national unity.

The Lebanese army has vowed to put an end to violence following the assassination of Beirut’s security chief Wissam al-Hassan.
On Monday, the army said it would “take decisive measures” in areas of intensifying tension. It has deployed tanks and troops in several districts.

“The last few hours have proven without a doubt that the country is going through a decisive and critical time and the level of tension in some regions is rising to unprecedented levels,” the Lebanese army said in a statement.
Clashes between unidentified armed men and police forces in Tripoli and Beirut left at least five dead and several others injured on Monday.

Clashes erupted on Sunday, as the country was holding a funeral ceremony for Hassan.

The Sunday ceremony turned violent when opposition supporters tried to storm Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s office.

Reports also say some elements of the opposition March 14 Movement are trying to sow discord among the country’s political players and create havoc after the assassination of al-Hassan.

As intelligence chief of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces, General Hassan had plenty of enemies. His police branch has been seen as a bastion of influence for Lebanon’s 30% Sunni Muslim minority, and also as a locus of hostility towards the Syrian regime, which has long exercised overweening influence in its smaller neighbour. Within Lebanon’s complex sectarian equation, Sunnis overwhelmingly oppose the country’s current governing coalition, which is made up of Shia and pro-Syrian Christian factions, including Hizbullah, the fearsomely armed Shia party-cum-militia.

In 2008 this alliance, known collectively as March 8th, captured power from the opposing March 14th coalition that groups Sunnis, Druze and anti-Syrian Christians. The until-now-unsolved series of political murders in the preceding years had targeted several March 14th leaders, including Rafik Hariri, a prominent Sunni who served five times as Lebanon’s prime minister. The country has remained deeply polarised ever since, with tensions mounting as Syria’s strife has descended into a sectarian struggle not unlike the civil war that plagued Lebanon from 1975-1990.

General Hassan had served as Mr Hariri’s security chief. His police branch aided UN investigators into the Hariri assassination who have pointed a finger at Hizbullah. More recently, in August, General Hassan’s men arrested a prominent pro-Syrian Lebanese politician, Michel Samaha, following the alleged discovery of explosive devices in the boot of his car. Leaked accounts of his interrogation suggested that Mr Samaha had transported them from the Syrian capital, Damascus, where they had been supplied by a top Syrian intelligence officer. The leaked transcript hinted that the bombs had been intended for use in a campaign to stir sectarian tensions, by targeting Lebanese Christian politicians and anti-Syrian Wahabi Muslim activists.

Not surprisingly, March 14th politicians have been quick to accuse the Syrian regime of responsibility for the Beirut blast that killed General Hassan. Equally unsurprisingly, Sunni districts of Lebanon erupted in protests over the killing of “their” police chief. Until now, fears of a return to civil war have helped keep a lid on Lebanon, despite the fact that Hizbullah and Sunni Lebanese groups have each been sending weapons and fighters to aid opposing sides in Syria. Now, the gloves may come off in Lebanon, too.

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