Rocket Attack on Yarze-Baabda Not Ruled Out as Launch Pads Discovered in Ballouneh

The army, the presidential guards and security forces were on Friday conducting a search operation in the town of Araya in Baabda district where a strong blast was heard overnight, informed sources told Naharnet, as two rocket launch pads were found in Kesrouan district.

The mysterious blast that reverberated across several districts at around 12:43 am could have been caused by a rocket launch, the sources said.

The information they provided to Naharnet came as the launch pads with one of them a 122mm Grad rocket installed on it were discovered in the town of Ballouneh in Kesrouan.

The army drew a tight security dragnet and prevented reporters from approaching the area.

The sources said the military and the security agencies were hearing witness testimonies in Aley, the North Metn and Kesrouan's mountainous areas after residents said they heard the buzz of a rocket and red flares going up into the night sky.

They did not rule out that a rocket had been intended to target a “state institution” in the area near Araya.

The defense ministry lies in the nearby town of Yarze while the presidential palace is in Baabda not far from it.

The participation of the presidential guards in the search by hundreds of armed forces for clues in the blast area was a sign that the palace could have been targeted, the sources added.

Meanwhile, a security source told Agence France Presse that "a rocket hit an electricity line in the Jumhour area."

"The army found two rocket launch platforms, one of which had an unlaunched rocket on it, in the Ballouneh area," northeast of Beirut, the source said.

"It's not yet clear what the target was," the source added, calling the rocket fire "a terrorist act of sabotage."

"This is intended to intimidate," he added.

Electricite du Liban technical teams also inspected the Jiyyeh-Bsalim line in the Monteverde valley after initial reports that a high voltage electricity cable had exploded or a suspicious object had hit the line.

EDL said in a statement that small debris of metals gathered from the area confirmed the theory that a “metallic object” had hit the cable, without disrupting the power supply.

Military and security sources confirmed to Naharnet that investigators were studying all possible scenarios, without confirming any of them.

An official announcement will be made when the investigation is over, they said.

Last month, two rockets slammed into the Hizbullah stronghold of Beirut's southern suburbs, wounding four.

Meanwhile, the Army Command issued a statement on Friday afternoon, saying that “after the sound of an explosion was heard yesterday night in the Jumhour area, army units intensified their investigations.”

As a result, “an army patrol found a launchpad equipped with an armed 122mm Grad rocket and a timer at noon Friday at the Mar Elias forest in the Kesrouan area of Ballouneh,” it added.

“Another launchpad was also found and investigations revealed that it was used to fire a rocket of the same type overnight that landed in a valley between the areas of Jumhour and Bsous, cutting off high voltage power lines in the area,” the statement added.

“A military expert arrived on the scene and defused the armed rocket as a probe got underway under the supervision of the relevant judicial authorities in order to identity the perpetrators and arrest them.”

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