Army: Two Soldiers Killed in Clashes with Gunmen in Arsal

The army announced on Friday that one of its units was the victim of an armed ambush as it was patrolling the outskirts of the Bekaa town of Arsal.

Two officers were killed and a number of soldiers were wounded the clash that ensued with the gunmen, said the Army Command in a statement.

A number of the gunmen were also injured.

“A large army unit soon headed to the region where it cordoned off the area and began pursuing the attackers,” it continued.

Furthermore, it urged the residents of Arsal to cooperate fully with the army's procedures in the area, warning that it will “not be lenient with any attempt to allow passage or harbor gunmen.”

Media reports had said earlier that at least four soldiers were killed and a number others wounded the Arsal clashes between the army and gunmen.

LBCI and al-Jadeed televisions said that the clashes erupted in light of the shooting and kidnapping of Khaled Hmayyed in Arsal.

OTV later reported the death of Hmayyed, identifying him as a member of the group that abducted seven Estonians in Lebanon in 2011.

Hmayyed recently joined the Free Syrian Army.

LBCI said that the Lebanese security agencies had labeled him as a member of a “terrorist group,” adding that his activity was constantly being monitored.

Other sources said he was a member of the extremist al-Nusra Front, which is active in the Syrian revolt.

LBCI did not rule out the possibility of the clash erupting after an ambush was set up against the army.

Al-Mayadeen television said that six Lebanese soldiers were wounded in the ambush set up by gunmen in the outskirts of Arsal.

Initial reports had said that the Bekaa clash erupted as the army was cracking down on a kidnapping and robbery gang.

They added that the army was clashing with members of the Free Syrian Army.

The seven Estonians were kidnapped in Lebanon in March 2011 as they entered the country by as part of a bicycle tour from Syria.

They were held in the Bekaa area and released in July 2011.

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