One Soldier Killed, 6 Wounded in Tripoli as Residents Protest Troops' Measures

A soldier was killed and 6 others were wounded on Thursday evening as tension soared again in the northern city of Tripoli.

In addition to the usual clashes between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, the northern city also witnessed a demonstration by residents protesting the army's measures in the area.

“Clashes resumed on Thursday when troops attempted to defend al-Jadeed television crew that came under attack while covering the situation in (Tripoli's) Syria street,” a communique released by the military institution said.

The statement detailed: “Gunmen intercepted the crew, which called for an intervention by troops present in the area. This soon erupted into clashes between gunmen and the army's soldiers, and later led to renewing the fighting between Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen.”

A shootout had also erupted between the army and some gunmen at the Malloula roundabout, reported the state-run National News Agency.

"The clashes led to injuring seven soldiers, among them two in critical conditions.”

The NNA said one of the wounded soldiers in A.A., noting that he was transferred to a hospital for treatment.

However, later in the evening a security official told Agence France Presse that a soldier was killed after receiving a bullet in the head.

The communique said the troops continued to respond to the sources of fire and have cordoned off the Al-Sheikh building, where gunmen were positioned, to “arrest them and bring them to justice.”

Later in the evening, northern residents took to the streets to protest the newly adopted measures of the military institution in Tripoli.

Another army communique said Abdul Hamid Mohammed Awad "led the protests, beat up a citizen and acted violently against soldier."

The protesters marched towards the army barrack in Tripoli's al-Qobbeh region, the NNA said.

LBCI television said gunshots were fired near the eastern entrance of the army barrack in al-Qobbeh as protesters reached the area, noting also that Shadi al-Mawlawi and his brother Nizar were among the first to advance towards the military quarter.

Radio Voice of Lebanon (93.3) added that the international road was blocked near al-Abdeh area to “demand removing the siege imposed on Bab al-Tabbaneh.”

“The army fired gunshots to prevent a group of men from advancing towards the al-Qobbeh, which made them leave the area,” LBCI said.

The army announced that the troops are trying to disperse protesters near al-Qobbeh.

Bab al-Tabbaneh residents' spokesperson Sheikh Khaled al-Sayyed warned that actions will be taken against the military institution, if troops do not “immediately withdraw” from the neighborhood.

“We give the army a short deadline to withdraw from Bab al-Tabbaneh and stop the raids, or else, we will act against it on all axes,” he said.

Commenting on Thursday's tension, Salafist cleric Dai al-Islam al-Shahhal called for a large-scale protest after Friday's prayers in al-Mansouri Grand mosque in the city “to call for calm and to prevent the use of the army forces to confront Sunnis.”

“Sunnis will not be the victims and the solution to the crisis in Tripoli is through dialogue and just politics, and it starts with arresting criminals in Jabal Mohsen,” the media office of al-Shahhal said.

An urgent also meeting got underway in Tripoli Salafist cleric Sheikh Salem al-Rafei's office to tackle the tension, LBCI said.

The meeting called for a "day of anger" and for protests on Friday, OTV said.

The Army Command had issued a communique earlier on Thursday pointing out that “Rami Seifeddine Hassoun and Bilal Naser Hassoun, were detained over several arrest warrants and for opening fire on several occasions.”

“Abdul Hamid Mohammed Awad was also arrested for assaulting another compatriot on Wednesday morning and attacking a soldier earlier,” the statement added.

The army added that its units has removed several barricades and obstacles that were set up in the areas that has witnessed clashes.

Meanwhile, State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged three people who hail from Jabal Mohsen on charges of forming “two politically and militarily feuding groups to carry out terrorist acts in the city.”

The charges also included involvement in gunfire exchange, attempting to kill civilians and soldiers, as well as destructing buildings and vandalizing public and private establishments.

Saqr referred the suspects to First Military Investigation Judge Riyad Abu Ghida.

On Wednesday night, unknown assailants tossed two stun grenades at Syria street, which separates the rival neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh.

Hundreds of policemen from different parts of Lebanon have been sent to Tripoli to help improve security, working under the army's command.

The army has been authorized to take charge of security in Tripoli for six months following the deadly sectarian clashes by rival sides stemming from the civil war in neighboring Syria.

At least 10 people have been killed and 100 others wounded in clashes between the rival Tripoli neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen since Saturday.

Tensions soared in the city in August when twin car bombings hit Sunni mosques and left hundreds of casualties.

The latest round of violence erupted last week when Jabal Mohsen residents were shot in their feet in vengeful sectarian attacks.

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