Charbel Denies Vehicle Gets Through Awwali Checkpoint for Christmas Bombing

Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel denied a report on Monday that a suspicious car was able to cross the Lebanese army's checkpoint in the southern city of Sidon following a clash.

In remarks to Voice of Lebanon (100.5), Charbel said: “No suspicious vehicle crossed al-Awwali” bridge.

“These are just information and the investigation hasn't yet produced any result,” he said.

His denial came after al-Liwaa daily reported that the driver of a vehicle to be used in bomb attacks was able to cross the military checkpoint at al-Awwali bridge at the northern entrance of Sidon.

The newspaper quoted sources as saying that the clash between the members of the checkpoint and a gunman on Sunday night helped the driver pass by them to use the car in an attack during Christmas.

The army said in a communique that an attacker hurled a hand grenade at the checkpoint, prompting troops to retaliate, which left the gunman dead and two soldiers wounded.

An Nahar newspaper said the armed man was riding a four-wheeler. Neither the army nor An Nahar confirmed whether there were other suspects in other vehicles.

MTV said the army was on Monday carrying out a raids to arrest several suspects involved in the Awwali attack.

In a near simultaneous attack, an Envoy-type SUV carrying three gunmen arrived at the army checkpoint in Sidon’s Majdelyoun area and one of them left the vehicle and blew himself up with a hand grenade, the army said.

The suspect and a soldier were killed, and another wounded, the communique said.

The checkpoint’s members opened fire at the other two gunmen and killed them, the army added.

An Nahar said that the Envoy was registered in the name of Salafist cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Asir, who has gone into hiding since the June clashes between his supporters and the army in Sidon.

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