Al-Jazeerah: Cross-Cultural Understanding
News, January 2015
7 Lebanese People Killed in Two Suicide Attacks in Tripoli
January 11, 2015
Al-Qaida group claims suicide bombing in north Lebanon
by Salah Takieddine
BEIRUT, Jan. 11, 2015 (Xinhua) --
The fundamentalist group al-Nusra Front on Saturday claimed responsibility for a twin suicide bombing in the Alawite neighborhood of north Lebanon's port city of Tripoli, which killed at least 9 people and injuring 37 others.
The al-Qaida-linked fundamentalist group said on its Twitter account that the attacks against a coffee shop was carried out by the Nusairi National Democratic Party in Jabal Mohsen as a revenge to the Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon.
The National News Agency previously reported that the suicide bombers are Lebanese nationals from the al-Mankoubin Sunni neighborhood in Tripoli.
It identified them as Taha Samir Kayyal and Bilal Mohammad Ibrahim and that an Intelligence Unit from the Lebanese army is surrounding their houses in the area.
According to a security source who spoke on condition of anonymity, the first suicide bomber blew himself at the entrance of a popular coffee shop known as "Amran" and while the survivors and onlookers tried to help the victims, the second suicide bomber trigger the attack, leaving at least nine killed, and 37 others wounded.
The army has cordoned off the area and a curfew has been imposed on Jabal Mohsen, in an attempt to avoid possible sectarian violence.
Over the past few years, Tripoli's Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighborhood has been locked in violent clashes with the Sunni neighborhood of Bab el-Tebbaneh.
But in September, the Council of Ministers adopted the recommendations of the Higher Council of Defense and charged the army with executing a security plan to restore law and order to the largest city of North Lebanon.
Normality began to come back, and the army managed to apprehend most of those who were involved in the fighting between the neighborhoods.
But the latest explosions brought back fears of further sectarian division and the return of violence to the city, which prompted a wide campaign of condemnation particularly from the Hezbollah Shiite party and the al-Mustabla Movement that represents the majority of Lebanon's Sunnis.
Hezbollah, which is currently engaged in dialogue with al-Mustaqbal with aim at defusing the sectarian tension, issued a statement condemning the attack, saying that the blast is "a clear attempt to fuel the sectarian tension in the country."
The militant party called on the people of Jabal Mohsen to "stay calm and prevent any attempt of being dragged again into any kind of fighting."
In a statement, Al-Mustabla movement also condemned the suicide bombings, and called for avoiding any further escalation that "would only serve those who are annoyed by the ongoing dialogue atmosphere in the country."
"The incident ... only serves the enemies of civil peace and the coexistence," said the statement, adding that the "blood of those killed in Jabal Mohsen is the blood of all the Lebanese who believe in their unity."
Lebanon's Prime Minister Tamma Salam also slammed the terrorist bombings. He said the attack "can never terrorize the Lebanese or weaken the country's determination and decision to confront terrorism and terrorists."
"Our military and security forces are at their highest level of awareness and readiness, and are marching ahead with the implementation of the security plan and tracking down of all those who wish to harm Lebanon and the Lebanese", Salam said in a statement.
He urged the people of Tripoli to rally around the armed forces, and demonstrate highest degrees of responsibility and self-restraint so as to thwart the attempts of the forces of darkness.
Also on Saturday, former President Michel Suleiman issued his condemnation of the terrorist attack.
He said terrorism will not succeed in dragging Tripoli and its people to civil strife at such a critical moment in the country when it needs a national dialogue that could lead to an ease in sectarian tensions, and the election of a new president.
Editor: Shen Qing
Suicide attack at Lebanese cafe kills at least seven
By Nazih Siddiq
TRIPOLI, Lebanon Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:08pm EST
A suicide bomb attack on a cafe in the Lebanese city of Tripoli killed at least seven people on Saturday, the latest violence to hit a region repeatedly buffeted by violence linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria.
The Nusra Front, al Qaeda's official affiliate in the Syrian civil war, said it carried out the double suicide attack in the predominantly Alawite district of Jabal Mohsen "in revenge for the Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon". The statement appeared on a Twitter feed operated by the group's media arm.
Lebanon's National News Agency gave the names of two suicide attackers it said were from Tripoli, an overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim city whose long-standing sectarian tensions have been exacerbated by the Syrian civil war.
Lebanon's Health Ministry said the attack killed seven people. Other officials put the death toll at nine. Three dozen people were wounded.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam said in a statement the attack was "a new attempt to spread the seeds of strife" in Tripoli and would not "weaken the determination of the state and its decision to confront terrorism and terrorists".
The army said the attack was carried out by a lone suicide bomber, though its investigations were still underway. The National News Agency said the second bomber had blown himself up as people gathered in response to the first blast.
Lebanon's security has been repeatedly jolted by the Syria crisis, which has also helped paralyze its government: the country has been without a head of state since May.
Tripoli, Lebanon's second biggest city, has historically been a bastion for Sunni Islamist groups, making it a concern for Lebanese security agencies that have warned of plans by Islamic State and the Nusra Front to destabilize the country.
Militants linked to Islamic State and the Nusra Front mounted an attack on the Lebanese border town of Arsal last August. They are still holding around two dozen members of the security forces taken captive in that incursion.
CALLS FOR UNITY
The last major flare-up in Tripoli was in October, when at least 11 soldiers and 22 militants were killed in fighting between Sunni Islamists and the army.
The targeted cafe was on a street dividing Jabal Mohsen from the Sunni district of Bab al-Tabbaneh, which has often turned into a frontline for conflict between Sunni and Alawite communities over the years, particularly since Syria's civil war erupted - pitting the government of President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite, against an insurgency dominated by Sunni Islamists.
But its communal tensions were eased by a security plan brought into force last year.
Leaders from across Lebanon's political divide called for unity. The powerful Shi'ite group Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside the government in Syria, responded to the attack by saying terrorist groups must be isolated.
It urged the people of Jabal Mohsen, whose Alawite sect is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, not to "be dragged toward reactions that would achieve the criminals' vile aims".
Former prime minister Saad al-Hariri, an influential Lebanese Sunni politician backed by Saudi Arabia, said the attack aimed to fuel discord in Tripoli.
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