Monday, August 18, 2008


Grenades rock Tripoli in wake of deadly bombingArmy carries out raids on houses in cityBy Dalila Mahdawi Daily Star staffMonday, August 18, 2008

BEIRUT: In the latest violence to hit the troubled northern city of Tripoli, three grenades exploded in the early hours of Saturday morning, just days after a bomb targeting soldiers ripped through a bus on a busy commercial street. Lebanese Armed Forces soldiers carried out house raids throughout the city after two hand grenades exploded on Syria Street in the impoverished Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood.

In a separate incident, a stun grenade was hurled at a political party's office in Tripoli early Saturday morning. The grenade was thrown by an unknown attacker into the garden of the office in the Abi Samra area at about 3 a.m., said a report on Naharnet.

Tripoli has been the scene of bloody fighting since May. In June and July, at least 23 people were killed in battles between mainly Sunni militants from the Bab al-Tabbaneh district and Alawite residents of nearby Jabal Mohsen, although hostilities had been calming down. Tensions between the two communities have been simmering since the end of Lebanon's 1975-90 Civil War.

In another blow to the fragile security situation in the city, a bomb hidden in a briefcase exploded by a bus last Wednesday, killing nine soldiers, at least five civilians and injuring over 40 others.

The blast came one day after the new unity government received a vote of confidence from Parliament and on the morning of the first day of a historic visit by President Michel Sleiman to Syria in a bid to establish diplomatic ties.
Speaking after the attack, Information Minister Tarek Mitri told reporters, "The investigation [into the bombing] has begun and there are many interpretations, political interpretations" regarding who was responsible. "Once again, they want our country to be an arena for settling scores and battling for influence," Mitri added.

Investigators on Saturday continued to probe the attack, examining surveillance images of the suspected bomber.
MPs from the Future Movement of parliamentary majority leader Saad Hariri have called on the government to request the UN Security Council to add the bombing in Tripoli to crimes already being investigated by a UN commission formed to look into the assassination of Saad's father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.

An unidentified Cabinet source "feared that the spate of bloody violence in Tripoli could spread to Ain al-Hilweh and the Bekaa," the Web site Naharnet reported on Saturday.
Ain al-Hilweh, the largest and most anarchic Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, has seen increased factional fighting in recent months.

In the latest violence in Ain al-Hilweh, Fatah member Youssef Hussein al-Sayyid was shot dead after an intra-Fatah clash broke out Friday night at the notorious camp outside of Sidon in South Lebanon.Commenting on the Tripoli blast, Hizbullah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah said on Thursday that "cooperation" was needed to "uplift our country."

He also said Hizbullah was more determined than ever to discuss a national defense strategy. "Devising a national strategy to rebuild the Lebanese state, as well as a strategy to settle the country's deep rooted social and economic problems are two crucial items to be discussed,"he said.
Hizbullah is due to sign a memorandum of understanding with Salafist Islamist factions on Monday. An earlier meeting between the groups called for Sunni-Shiite unity to counter attempts to create renewed sectarian strife.

Clashes in Ain al-Hilweh kill Fatah party member
Mohammed Zaatari
Daily Star Staff
SIDON: Clashes in the Ain al-Hilweh Palestinian refugee camp near Sidon on Friday night killed a member of the Fatah party of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

The man, identified as Youssef Hussein Al-Sayyid, died from gunshot wounds following a dispute with another Fatah member. Other news reports said two Fatah members were killed. Some camp officials called the shooting an isolated incident, but other sources said it came in line with growing security tension in the largest and most lawless camp of Lebanon's dozen Palestinian refugee camps.

In recent months, Ain al-Hilweh has witnessed a sharp increase in factional violence. Most recently, two militants and a bystander were killed in July in clashes between Islamist group Jund al-Sham - an offshoot of the disbanded Usbat al-Ansar - and a joint force of Palestinian factions responsible for security at the camp, home to about 40,000 people.

Fearing a bigger conflict between Fatah and Islamist groups could erupt, residents in the camp on Saturday protested against factional violence under the banner Against Camp Instability and Internal Strife and called on all Palestinian groups to point their weapons at Israel rather than each other.
Slogans at the sit-in urged the different factions within Ain al-Hilweh to revert to dialogue to resolve disputes and not to cover for those who attempted to destabilize the camp.

"The residents of the camp have the right to live in security, peace and stability," read one slogan. "We want to sleep without hearing the sound of gunfire," said another.
Residents of Ain al-Hilweh have frequently protested against inter-factional violence in the past.

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