Charbel Convenes Security Meeting: Army to Open Fire on Any Gunman on Sidon's Streetsإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel on Sunday warned that the army will open fire on any gunman who appears on the streets in the southern city of Sidon, in the wake of a deadly clash between supporters of Hizbullah and Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir that left three people dead and several others wounded.
“Army troops have received clear orders from their command to open fire on any gunman,” Charbel said as he arrived in Sidon to attend an emergency meeting for the South's security council.
Prime Minister Najib Miqati had asked Charbel to convene the meeting and called on the army and security agencies to take prompt measures to bring the situation under control and arrest those behind the violence.
"We call on everyone to remain calm and exercise restraint at this critical and delicate juncture," said the premier.
Speaking to reporters outside Sidon's serail, Charbel stressed that “no one enjoys impunity and there won't be consensual security from now on.”
Answering a question, the minister said “all the Lebanese possess weapons,” noting that the violence erupted in the southern city because of the “political and sectarian tensions” he had warned of five months ago.
Charbel called on all the Lebanese to “sit around the dialogue table to pave the ground for removing the weapons.”
Later on Sunday, the Army Command issued a statement saying military units have launched raids aimed at arresting the shooters in Sidon, warning that its troops will deal “firmly and forcefully with any gunmen who appear on the streets regardless of their affiliation.”
In remarks voiced after the security meeting, Charbel said a "serious investigation" will be launched on Monday in order to identify the individuals who ignited the deadly clash.
Charbel said he suggested during the meeting to turn Sidon into a "military zone in which all security units and agencies would operate under the command of the Lebanese army," noting that such a move requires a decision by the government.
The minister also reassured that he does not expect further escalation in the southern city.