High tensions in North Lebanon after two Assad opponents shot dead
Lebanese soldiers shot dead a Sunni cleric and a member of the anti-Syrian regime coalition in northern Lebanon, confirmed the Lebanese security forces. Sheikh Ahmed Abdul Ouahid and another companion, Mohammed Hussein Miraib, members of the March 14 Alliance, were shot dead when their car refused to stop at an army checkpoint, according to these sources.
Residents in the area of Akkar in the north of Lebanon, have sealed off the roads in protest to the incident. The Lebanese army confirmed in a statement the deaths of two men, without elaborating. "The command of the army expressed its deep regret at the death of two victims (...) a commission of inquiry composed of senior officers and gendarmes was immediately put in place under the authority of justice, it said.
Sheikh Ahmed was on his way to Halba in Akkar to participate in a rally against the Syrian regime. This was supposed to be one of two parallel rallies – one organized by Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) and the other by the Future bloc to mark the fourth commemoration of May 7, 2008.
At the end, after the shooting just the SSNP held its meeting. The Future Movement has cancelled its own following the death of Sheikh Ahmad and his bodyguard.
MP Khaled Daher slammed the Army, saying the soldiers did not carry a warning shot, as common in such cases and opened fire directly on the cleric.
For his part, Lebanon's Prime Minister Nagib Mikati has ordered an investigation into the death of Sheikh Abdul Ouahid, reported the National News Agency. The official agency said the prime minister offered condolences to the family of the cleric, urging all parties for calm. His predecessor, Saad Hariri, had the same appeal, warning all residents of Akkar against the @trap of discord.@
Minutes after the incident, the MP Khaled Daher announced the cancellation of the rally at which Sheikh Abdul Ouahid, known for his criticism of the Syrian regime and his support for the Syrian revolt, was supposed to deliver a speech. "The firing of the army was intentional and we can ensure that this incident can not happen easily," said Daher. He continued: "We hold the commander of the Army Kawhaji responsible for these violent acts."
A large deployment of armed forces was noted in Akkar where tensions are high. Several roads in the region have also been blocked by burning tires in protest after the death of the Sheikh.
This shooting incident came after a week of clashes in Tripoli, the largest city in northern Lebnon, between Sunnis opposing the Syrian government and Alawite, who are supporters of the regime. At least 12 people in these clashes.