Rival Lebanese politicians condemn Iran Embassy blasts

Rival Lebanese politicians condemn Iran Embassy blasts
Wed Nov 20, 2013 07:57:13

Lebanese officials of all stripes have strongly condemned the deadly car bombings targeting the Iranian Embassy in Beirut, stressing the need to maintain national unity in times of strife.

Head of the Future bloc former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora on Tuesday condemned the “horrible crime,” adding that the responsible party was a “criminal terrorist” that should be punished.

“I, politically and personally, strongly condemn this terrorist crime which targeted innocent Lebanese civilians today,” Siniora said.

The former premier added that it was imperative to contain such acts of terror before they spread across Lebanon, because the country could no longer endure violence tied to ongoing regional conflicts.

“[Lebanon] cannot be a conduit for regional conflicts and schemes, these can only be tackled with solidarity and unity, in the interests of Lebanon and the Lebanese,” Siniora said.

At least 25 people were killed, including an Iranian diplomat, and over 100 wounded in two suicide bomb attacks in the predominantly Shia neighborhood of Bir Hasan.

Caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn denounced the bombings, saying the “crime constitutes a new chapter in a series of episodes meant to destroy Lebanon.”

Ghosn also said that it was important to maintain national unity, adding that Israel and terrorists were Lebanon’s enemies.

For his part, Free Patriotic Movement MP Michel Aoun said the Tuesday bombings were the result of “mad despair,” but did not hide his opinion that the attack was a result of the war in Syria and carried out by extremist groups tied to the armed opposition there.

“The degree of brutality indicates what to expect in the future if they [terrorists] come to power,” Aoun told Al-Manar television, referring to Syria.

“We should stop hoping and start confronting these backward groups,” he added.

Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea also condemned the bombings, saying Lebanon should remain neutral amid regional conflicts.

“This criminal act, as well as the previous ones, requires us to call for distancing Lebanon, in practical terms, from everything that is going on around us,” Geagea said.

He also said the Lebanese-Syrian border should be better controlled by the Army and even United Nations troops if possible.

Progressive Socialist Party leader Walid Jumblatt affirmed the need for “an immediate return to dialogue in order to avoid a cycle of terrorism.”

He also telephoned Iranian Ambassador Ghazanfar Roknabadi to condemn the “terrorist explosion.”

Kataeb Party leader Amine Gemayel said the attack was “an act of terrorism, part of a malicious conspiracy targeting Lebanon.”

He called on all Lebanese to take an “urgent national stance” to save the country from similar schemes.

Marada Movement leader Suleiman Franjieh also condemned the explosions, saying they carried “a clear message for resistance and civil peace.”

Head of Lebanese Democratic Party MP Talal Arslan said Lebanon would not crumble, but that it was important “not to be drawn toward internal strife and not to throw out charges haphazardly, because the murderer is known.”

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati held an emergency Disaster Operations and National Crises meeting at the Grand Serail to discuss the implications of the blasts.

Mikati was briefed by official bodies and representatives as well as the Army and security forces about the immediate measures needed to be taken. It was also agreed at the meeting that a series of actions would be carried out to ensure that basic utilities and telephone lines would be running normally in the affected area and that schools would be protected.

Mikati confirmed that the Health Ministry had instructed Lebanese hospitals to receive and treat the wounded at the expense of the state.

BA/BA

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