Soldier, 4 Gunmen Dead as Attacks Involving Suicide Bomber Target Army Checkpoints in Sidon

Near-simultaneous attacks on two army checkpoints in Sidon – one of them involving a suicide bomber – left a soldier and four gunmen dead on Sunday evening.

In the first attack, an unidentified attacker hurled a hand grenade at an army checkpoint on Sidon's northern entrance in the al-Awwali area, prompting troops to retaliate, which left a gunman dead and a soldier wounded.

According to LBCI television, the army scoured the groves that lie near the al-Awwali checkpoint and closed the road for a while.

Soon after the army intensified its patrols in the area, another attack targeted one of its checkpoints in the Sidon suburb of Majdelyoun.

State-run National News Agency said three gunmen attacked the checkpoint at the Majdelyoun-Bqosta intersection, noting that one of them blew himself up while the other two were killed by troops.

“At 9:15 p.m., an armed man crossed the Lebanese Army’s checkpoint in al-Awwali, north of Sidon, and hurled a hand grenade at it,” an army statement said late Sunday.

“The incident left two soldiers wounded and troops fired back at the aforementioned person, which resulted in his death,” the statement added.

“And at around 10:00 p.m., an Envoy-type SUV carrying three gunmen arrived at the army checkpoint in Sidon’s Majdelyoun and one of them left the vehicle and blew himself up with a hand grenade, which resulted in his death and led to the martyrdom of a soldier and the wounding of another,” said the statement, adding that “the checkpoint’s members opened fire at the other two gunmen and killed them.”

The army noted that a military expert inspected the car for explosives and that a probe was launched into the incident under the supervision of the relevant judicial authorities.

At dawn, the army issued a statement identifying the slain soldier as Sergeant Samer Youssef Rizk.

Meanwhile, al-Jadeed television said “the car that targeted the army in Sidon is registered in the name of Mohammed al-Zarif, a member of the group of Moein Abu Dahr, the suicide bomber who blew himself up at the Iranian embassy” in Beirut.

MTV said the four gunmen killed by the army are “a Lebanese from the al-Zarif family, two Palestinians from the al-Sayyed and al-Mir families while the fourth is still unidentified.”

LBCI said the unidentified attacker was one of fugitive cleric Ahmed al-Asir’s supporters.

“After a bomb technician examined the bodies in Majdelyoun, it turned out that one of them was wearing a suicide vest,” Future TV said earlier on Sunday.

Later on Sunday, the TV network said “the army has reopened the road in the al-Awwali area and is staging armored patrols” across Sidon.

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