Beirut (AsiaNews) – A fourth blast in two weeks took place in Lebanon as tensions around two Palestinian refugee camps, Nahar al-Bared, in northern Lebanon, and Ain al-Hilweh, in the south, remain high with gunfire still exchanged.
A powerful blast ripped through an empty bus parked at the entrance to the Abdel-Massih business centre, near the Saint Tekla Church in Sad Boushriyeh, northeast of Beirut, Monday night, wounding more than 15 people, no one seriously, and destroying about ten stores and 20 cars.
The attack follows three similar incidents in May, one that took place in the Christian neighbourhood of Ashraffiyeh on May 20 that left one person dead and ten wounded; another in the predominantly Sunni neighbourhood of Vedun on May 21 (ten people injured); and a third one in the town of Aley, in the Druze area of Mount Lebanon on May 23 (16 wounded).
Security sources said the explosive used in last night’s blast was similar to the one that targeted two commuting busses in the Christian town of Ein Alaq on February 13, killing and wounding at least 20 people. The Lebanese government blamed the blast on Fatah al-Islam, the terrorist group under siege in the Nahr al-Bared camp for the past two weeks.
Despite last night’s incident, the bells of Saint Tekla Church were still rung today. Beirut’s Maronite bishop, Mgr Paul Matar, who is currently participating in the synod of Maronite bishops chaired by Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir in Bkerke, condemned in the strongest terms the attack which he described as “a tool of hatred” against Sad Boushriyeh, a poor area of the city. He urged the faithful of his diocese not to fear because “God’s kindness is greater than man’s enmity.” Mgr Matar also renewed his unconditional support for the Lebanese army “which is defending the country’s sovereignty.”
Fatah’s commander in Lebanon, Sultan Abul Aynain, warned that Palestinians will use force against any action taken by terrorist groups in other Palestinian camps. Altogether there are 12 such camps in the country.
In Ein al-Hilweh, three Palestinian Islamic groups, Usbat al-Ansar, Islamic Jihadists Movement and Ansar ullah, announced that they are joining forces to prevent further clashes between the Jund al-Sham terrorist group and the Lebanese army.
In Israel, the daily Haaretz reports that the head of the research division of Military Intelligence, Brigadier General Yossi Baidatz, told the Knesset on Monday that Hezbollah is rebuilding its forces south of the Litani River in Lebanon despite the presence of international peacekeepers (UNIFIL) in the area.
In his opinion “Hezbollah continues to rehabilitate, from a military and a social perspective. It is acquiring a large number of weapons from Iran and Syria,” Baidatz said and “is preparing itself for possible conflict in the summer, but is not interested in this as it aspires to a period of calm in which to rehabilitate.”