6 Dead, 70 Hurt as Clashes Spread in Tripoli and Islamists Reclose al-Nour Squareإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Sectarian violence linked to the unrest in Syria claimed another six lives in the northern port city of Tripoli on Monday as clashes spread beyond the rival districts of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen and Islamist protesters reclosed the roads around al-Nour Square after their Salafist comrade Shadi al-Mawlawi remained in custody.
OTV said four B-10 RPGs fell on al-Zahriyeh district in central Tripoli and that residents were massively fleeing from the neighborhood.
And as LBC television quoted military sources as saying that army units had started deploying in Jabal Mohsen ahead of deploying in Bab al-Tabbaneh, state-run National News Agency said the army was reinforcing its presence in Tripoli and that army units had reached Jabal Mohsen's outskirts.
Clashes erupted in the afternoon in the areas of al-Mallouleh, Jabal Mohsen, al-Riva and al-Baqqar, leaving two people dead -- Bahaa Mohammed Daoud and Riad Ali Maarouf, NNA reported.
Meanwhile, OTV said clashes killed citizens Mahmoud Maarouf and Khodr al-Jalakh.
For its part, LBC television said at least 70 people were wounded on Monday.
NNA earlier said Haidar al-Rashed was killed by gunfire as he was standing on the balcony of his house in the area of Wadi al-Nahle-al-Baddawi during the fighting overnight.
Later in the day, Ramzi Taan Bakir was killed in Jabal Mohsen.
Clashes intensified at around 3:00 p.m. as several RPGs fell on al-Mankoubin district and flames and smoke could be seen rising from a building on the area’s outskirts.
The ongoing violence has brought Lebanon’s second largest city to a standstill socially and economically, with piles of garbage visible across its neighborhoods after clashes forced the suspension of waste collection.
NNA reported that several gunmen were seen on scooters on Azmi Street, which is outside the clashes area.
Meanwhile, Islamist protesters reclosed the roads leading to al-Nour Square to protest the continued detention of their comrade Shadi al-Mawlawi, whose arrest on Saturday by General Security agents had sparked the unrest.
LBC reported that Internal Security Forces troops were preventing vehicles from heading to al-Nour Square, as Islamists formed disciplinary committees to maintain the sit-in’s “peaceful nature.”
Mawlawi’s brother, Nizar, told LBC that the protesters “were surprised by the judiciary’s ploy against Shadi,” vowing that they will maintain their sit-in until the release of Shadi.
Later on Monday, a group of young men blocked the Halba-al-Abdeh road at the Wadi al-Jamous intersection with metal barriers and burning tires in solidarity with the Tripoli sit-in. The road was later reopened.
Fighting had erupted on Saturday night between the rival neighborhoods of mainly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh and majority Alawite Jabal Mohsen.
Clashes witnessed the first use of mortar shells on Monday, after rival gunmen used machineguns, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and Energa rifle-launched anti-tank grenades.
The Lebanese army has sent reinforcements to the city and warned that it would not tolerate any attempt to shake Tripoli’s security and stability.
The gunbattles erupted over the General Security Department’s arrest of Mawlawi by luring him to an office of Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi’s welfare association under the pretext that he would receive health care.
Mawlawi was seized for allegedly contacting a terrorist organization. Media reports said that the suspect is an avid supporter of the Syrian revolution against President Bashar Assad’s regime.
Premier Najib Miqati told As Safir daily that some parties are trying to picture the army as being against the Islamist forces in the city. “But the reality is different and the proof is that it didn’t interfere to end the sit-it on Saturday.”
He was referring to the protest held by Mawlawi’s supporters at al-Nour Square on Saturday. The sit-in was followed by the deadly clashes between the two neighborhoods.
“When the clashes spread … the army had to interfere to control security in the city,” Miqati said.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel also said that security agencies have the names of the gunmen involved in the clashes and the judiciary will take action.
Tripoli Mufti Sheikh Malek al-Shaar told Future News that the only solution to remove arms from the streets lies in taking a firm political decision. He blamed the deadly clashes however on a fifth column that he said is capable of smuggling weapons to the city anytime it wants.
“There won’t be any security without justice,” he said in other remarks to al-Liwaa daily. “Security would return to the city when its residents feel that justice has returned.”
Al-Shaar said the clashes were partly to be blamed on the lack of development projects in Tripoli, adding the residents believe that they don’t have equal opportunities.
The mufti also told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) that the sit-in at Abdul Hamid Karami Square might not end because the protestors believe that holding a demonstration is a democratic right.