34 Charged over Arsal Army Ambush, Municipal Chief Summonedإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Suspected members of an armed group were on Monday charged in connection with the ambush of an army patrol in the northeastern town of Arsal that left two soldiers dead.
State Commissioner to the Military Court Judge Saqr Saqr charged 34 people and summoned Arsal municipal chief, Ali al-Hujairi, to question him as a witness, the state-run National News Agency said.
Two of the suspects are in custody while the identities of 25 others are known and investigators are trying to identify the rest, it said.
The charges include the killing of two soldiers, the attempted murder of others and the seizure of their vehicle, NNA said. The suspects face the death penalty if convicted.
Saqr referred the file to the first Military Examining Magistrate Riyad Abu Ghida to question the suspects in addition to hearing the testimony of al-Hujairi.
The army said that earlier in the month a patrol was ambushed by Arsal gunmen as it was hunting a man wanted for several terrorist acts.
The clashes that ensued left an officer with the rank of captain, Pierre Bashaalani, and Sergeant Ibrahim Zahraman dead, and several military personnel wounded, it said.
But Arsal residents claimed that the soldiers were in civilian clothes and hadn't informed the town's authorities that they were planning to carry out a raid.
Since then, the military has set up checkpoints at Arsal's entrances, searching all vehicles entering the town and exiting it.
Al-Hujairi said on Sunday during a visit by a Mustaqbal movement delegation to the town that army chief Gen. Jean Qahwaji should hear the two versions of the story.
Al-Hujairi and his son have appeared on a video broadcast by a local channel showing the town's residents encircling the soldiers wounded in the ambush.
President Michel Suleiman said Monday that “attacks against the army are unacceptable regardless of their reasons” and “justice will take its course.”