6 Dead, 70 Hurt as Clashes Spread in Tripoli and Islamists Reclose al-Nour Square

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Sectarian violence linked to the unrest in Syria claimed another six lives in the northern port city of Tripoli on Monday as clashes spread beyond the rival districts of Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen and Islamist protesters reclosed the roads around al-Nour Square after their Salafist comrade Shadi al-Mawlawi remained in custody.

OTV said four B-10 RPGs fell on al-Zahriyeh district in central Tripoli and that residents were massively fleeing from the neighborhood.

And as LBC television quoted military sources as saying that army units had started deploying in Jabal Mohsen ahead of deploying in Bab al-Tabbaneh, state-run National News Agency said the army was reinforcing its presence in Tripoli and that army units had reached Jabal Mohsen's outskirts.

Clashes erupted in the afternoon in the areas of al-Mallouleh, Jabal Mohsen, al-Riva and al-Baqqar, leaving two people dead -- Bahaa Mohammed Daoud and Riad Ali Maarouf, NNA reported.

Meanwhile, OTV said clashes killed citizens Mahmoud Maarouf and Khodr al-Jalakh.

For its part, LBC television said at least 70 people were wounded on Monday.

NNA earlier said Haidar al-Rashed was killed by gunfire as he was standing on the balcony of his house in the area of Wadi al-Nahle-al-Baddawi during the fighting overnight.

Later in the day, Ramzi Taan Bakir was killed in Jabal Mohsen.

Clashes intensified at around 3:00 p.m. as several RPGs fell on al-Mankoubin district and flames and smoke could be seen rising from a building on the area’s outskirts.

The ongoing violence has brought Lebanon’s second largest city to a standstill socially and economically, with piles of garbage visible across its neighborhoods after clashes forced the suspension of waste collection.

NNA reported that several gunmen were seen on scooters on Azmi Street, which is outside the clashes area.

Meanwhile, Islamist protesters reclosed the roads leading to al-Nour Square to protest the continued detention of their comrade Shadi al-Mawlawi, whose arrest on Saturday by General Security agents had sparked the unrest.

LBC reported that Internal Security Forces troops were preventing vehicles from heading to al-Nour Square, as Islamists formed disciplinary committees to maintain the sit-in’s “peaceful nature.”

Mawlawi’s brother, Nizar, told LBC that the protesters “were surprised by the judiciary’s ploy against Shadi,” vowing that they will maintain their sit-in until the release of Shadi.

Later on Monday, a group of young men blocked the Halba-al-Abdeh road at the Wadi al-Jamous intersection with metal barriers and burning tires in solidarity with the Tripoli sit-in. The road was later reopened.

Fighting had erupted on Saturday night between the rival neighborhoods of mainly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh and majority Alawite Jabal Mohsen.

Clashes witnessed the first use of mortar shells on Monday, after rival gunmen used machineguns, rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs) and Energa rifle-launched anti-tank grenades.

The Lebanese army has sent reinforcements to the city and warned that it would not tolerate any attempt to shake Tripoli’s security and stability.

The gunbattles erupted over the General Security Department’s arrest of Mawlawi by luring him to an office of Finance Minister Mohammed Safadi’s welfare association under the pretext that he would receive health care.

Mawlawi was seized for allegedly contacting a terrorist organization. Media reports said that the suspect is an avid supporter of the Syrian revolution against President Bashar Assad’s regime.

Premier Najib Miqati told As Safir daily that some parties are trying to picture the army as being against the Islamist forces in the city. “But the reality is different and the proof is that it didn’t interfere to end the sit-it on Saturday.”

He was referring to the protest held by Mawlawi’s supporters at al-Nour Square on Saturday. The sit-in was followed by the deadly clashes between the two neighborhoods.

“When the clashes spread … the army had to interfere to control security in the city,” Miqati said.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel also said that security agencies have the names of the gunmen involved in the clashes and the judiciary will take action.

Tripoli Mufti Sheikh Malek al-Shaar told Future News that the only solution to remove arms from the streets lies in taking a firm political decision. He blamed the deadly clashes however on a fifth column that he said is capable of smuggling weapons to the city anytime it wants.

“There won’t be any security without justice,” he said in other remarks to al-Liwaa daily. “Security would return to the city when its residents feel that justice has returned.”

Al-Shaar said the clashes were partly to be blamed on the lack of development projects in Tripoli, adding the residents believe that they don’t have equal opportunities.

The mufti also told Voice of Lebanon radio (93.3) that the sit-in at Abdul Hamid Karami Square might not end because the protestors believe that holding a demonstration is a democratic right.

Comments 15
Missing allouchi 14 May 2012, 14:37

This Lebanese army takes command from Dahye and not Yarzi.

Missing reformist 14 May 2012, 23:39

allouch afande ma ken na'is ella you criticizing the army ;) If the army is in line with hezbollah, then where is the problem with keeping the weapons of hezbollah they are one.
akh if only you guys think a bit

Default-user-icon greenie (Guest) 14 May 2012, 16:02

The clashes were partly to be blamed on lack of development ???
Id say eny Middle east problem should be blamed on religion.
ALL Religions

Missing realist 14 May 2012, 22:09

i agree with you, and having one religion armed to the teeth will radicalize the other religions. I think things will get out of control in the midst of the western miscalculations and refusal to end the syrian drama and the iranian/hizbustan miscalculation/shortsights/arrogance. The cold civil war has started in 2005 with the murder of hariri and might not stay cold for long.

Default-user-icon Greenie (Guest) 14 May 2012, 16:30

If the Mighty leb army does not want to be involved (as usual) i suggest ,get the civilians out of there and let them slaughter eachothers

Default-user-icon OH (Guest) 14 May 2012, 17:47

“When the clashes spread … the army had to interfere to control security in the city,” Miqati said.

That's what's wrong with our governments, past and present and the damn country.

Best case: Army moves BEFORE the clashes (collects weapons or arrest jerks and foreign agents)

Second best: Army moves as soon as clashes occur, BEFORE they spread MIQATI to protect ALL the people, but not the armed criminals

Worst option, the Lebanese option: don't move until the clashes SPREAD, good job protecting lives and property, ya hameer...

The army should move before the clashes

Missing youssefhaddad 14 May 2012, 21:53

This is is bad and is not going to stop in Tripoli.
Lebanon is about to face another round of a civil war resonating the regions conflicts.
ya 7araam 3a hal sha3b...

Missing realist 14 May 2012, 22:33

The cold civil war started in 2005 with the murder of hariri, the problem is that hizbustan manu msale 3ala nabi like they say in arabic, having a surplus of weapons can buy you temporary victory but if the masses move all the weapons will not help: The Syrian example is readily available. If such a civil war does happen the 70's one would look like a walk in the park in comparison, there was no suicide bombers back then.

Thumb geha 14 May 2012, 22:14

if one looks at the spiraling chain of events, they would notice(if they want to see) that it is all fabricated.
again israeli threats, spiraling armed escalation....
just a point I would like to make to those who want to wait for "justice": we ll know how justice is in lebanon: several people are rotting in jail without trial ... and for over 5 years s far.
this is not justice, rather injustice.

Missing reformist 14 May 2012, 23:40

what's your point geha?

Default-user-icon Vicki (Guest) 15 May 2012, 05:00

Isn't it Saad Hariri who's to blame for the problems in Lebanon? He is inviting all kinds of the most dangerous extremists/fighters to Libanon, and helps smuggling weapons into the country; what a man that puts his country into such a dangerous situation only because of his jealosy and his eagerness to obey some Western warmongers and their slave-kings in the Gulf. Hope those Lebanese who love their country will see what some Westeners are up to, and want let them or their agents send Libanon into a bloddy conflict. Start talking to calm everybody, don't let the extremists push you into a disaster, don't sell your souls to the Western warmongers. All religions say killing is wrong, and mercy is right; extremists have no religion, but they abuse religions in order to spread hat and blood.

Default-user-icon Rami (Guest) 15 May 2012, 08:02

You can kiss the summer and tourism season goodbye.

Thumb shab 15 May 2012, 10:07

Arrest everyone armed in the pics.

Missing mustafa_hussein7 16 May 2012, 22:46

You offend Hezbollah? They are the only ones that ever faced Israel in Lebanon for decades! When did the gutless Future movement and other Salafi factions ever dare to face Israel? Oh i forgot you are using their weapons right in this movement.
Syria helped Hezbollah doing the 2006 war against Israel that they won. All you archieve in this struggle is to favor Israel and USA which i guess you already realized you hate Shias more than you hate Israel, you are all a bunch of gutless cowards.
I hope the Lebanese army will do it's job to disarm the Syrian rebels in Tripoli and secure Lebanon and the border to Syria also.
It is funny to see how weak you are, look at Jabal Mohsen they are only 10.000 Shia and they can fend off 500.000 Sunnis! You are pathetic... I repeat PATHETIC and WEAK!

Missing mustafa_hussein7 16 May 2012, 22:46

All you salafis in here, i can see who you support. This is typical propaganda that you use, you have no guts at all.

I'm a Lebanese and i support the Syrian government and its struggle against the Free Salafist Army there.