Suicide attacks kill at least 9 in Lebanon’s Tripoli
by Yusuf Selman İnanç
ISTANBULJan 12, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Yusuf Selman İnanç
Jan 12, 2015 12:00 am
On Saturday night, Lebanon's Tripoli was shaken with suicide attacks that left at least nine dead and 37 others wounded. The Lebanese Health Ministry said in a statement that "nine people were killed and 37 were wounded."
A Lebanese official, speaking on the condition of anonymity told AFP "The first suicide bomber entered into the Ashqar cafe at around 7:30 p.m. (5:30 p.m. GMT) and blew himself up. Panicked survivors tried to flee the scene of the attack. Then, a second suicide attacker arrived, and blew himself up too."
A man who was lightly wounded told AFP he was near the scene of the blast when the attackers struck. "I was at the cafe with other people, when we suddenly heard a first blast," Zuheir al-Sheikh said. "Then we heard a huge blast, though I have no idea what caused it," he added. The attack happened in the Alawite neighborhood in Tripoli.
Syria's al-Qaida branch, Nusra Front claimed the responsibility via Twitter. "#Al-Nusra Front: a cafe belonging to the (Alawite Arab) Democratic Party in Jabal Mohsen was targeted with a double martyrdom attack, to avenge the Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon," read the tweet.
Lebanese politicians and groups responded to the attack quickly. "This crime will not terrorize the Lebanese or the residents of Tripoli, and it will not weaken the government's resolve to confront terrorism and terrorists," Prime Minister Tammam Salam said in a statement.
The powerful pro-Syrian Shiite Hezbollah movement blamed "takfiri [extremist] terrorists" for carrying out the attack, in a reference to the militants. Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Lebanon's main Sunni official also condemned the attack. "This terrorist act is part of a campaign to sow chaos and division, and to destabilize (Tripoli) after the Lebanese army and security forces managed to stop the cycles of violence," Hariri said in a statement.
Lebanon experienced a fierce civil war in the 1970s and 1980s, but is now suffering from a deadly civil war in its neighboring country, Syria. Radical groups like the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) and the Nusra Front are attempting to gain a foothold in the country. The militants attacked strongholds of the Shiite group Hezbollah in Lebanon several times in 2014. Hezbollah has sent thousands of its fighters to battle on the side of Syrian President Bashar Assad. If the attacks increase, Hezbollah may respond Nusra within Lebanon that may drag the country into a deeper chaos.