Forty five days after the first bombing of a bus transporting army soldiers in Lebanon, another bomb exploded in Tripoli today, killing at least four soldiers and wounding over 20 people. The initial report indicates that the bomb was planted in a car targeting a bus carrying army soldiers in the city north of Lebanon. In the midst of speculations over an upcoming local war or an intense armed conflict between political parties, the Lebanese people can’t seem to catch a break to enjoy the holidays following the month of Ramadan, or adjusting to the never ending struggle to stabilize their economical situation. The media has been busy as expected reporting on the event and contacting political figures for their responses, and the blogsphere has had its say too.
A post on Lebanese Tag offers informative details and images from the scene:
A car bomb exploded Monday near a military bus carrying troops on their way to work in northern Lebanon, killing at least five people and wounding 25, Lebanese security officials said.
The officials said most of the casualties were soldiers. It was the second deadly attack targeting troops in northern Lebanon in less than two months.
A senior military official told The Associated Press that three soldiers were among the dead, but had no breakdown of the number of injured among the troops.
The security officials said the car packed with explosives was parked on the side of the road and was detonated by remote control as the bus drove in the Bahsas neighborhood on the southern entrance to the northern port city of Tripoli.
They said the explosives used were mixed with metal balls to maximize casualties.
Middle East Watch, a news blog dedicated to the Middle East region also reports on the event not long after it happened:
Lebanon's LBC TV reports that the car-bomb was detonated by remote control just as the minibus carrying Lebanese Army soldiers went by. Those who were less seriously wounded were taken to Tripoli's main soccer stadium for treatment. The explosion was the second targeting a Lebanese Army bus in less than two months. At least 18 people were killed, many of them soldiers, on August 13, when a bomb hidden inside a duffel bag exploded outside a passenger bus in Tripoli's city center.
Tripoli's Sunni-Muslim mufti Malek Sha'ar insists that those behind this lastest explosion were not from Lebanon and that they were attempting to sow discord inside the country. He said the people behind this act are trying to sow discord among Lebanon's different religious groups but he said all Lebanese will unite to fight this attack
Now Lebanon published a post rounding up responses from the Political figures upon hearing the news:
…Former PM Najib Mikati, who is from Tripoli, told LBC on Monday morning that the explosion was “a terrorist and criminal act against the army, who has been targeted since the Nahr al-Bared events…
…Marwan Hamadeh told LBC that the reconciliations in Tripoli did not remove weapons from the streets and did not stop explosions, “which were not planned in Lebanon, but which come from the outside…
…Interior Minister Ziad Baroud called for an exceptional meeting of the Central Security Council for Monday afternoon, and Police Brigadier General Antoine Shakur visited the site of the explosion in Tripoli.”
Rodge at Ouwet Front, posted his reaction to the Tripoli’s bus explosion, and accuses Syria for being the mastermind behind this incident in an effort to execute its regional agenda:
2 days after the explosion in Damascus, and about 45 days after the first one of its kind, here they are again, this morning an explosion hit a mini bus transporting Army soldiers and some civilians, some 10 killed or injured are reported, and I’m confident the same people planned and executed the 3 explosions.
Now the question should be what is the relation, and I think many of you girls and guys have already answered the question, cause it seems, and since the summer of 2007, the Syrians are trying all they can to return to Lebanon through the north gate, mainly Tripoli, and at the same time they are implementing their own part of the deal done with the Americans and Israelis, so they are assassinating some of the officers involved in Hariri’s death, while blame it on the extremists.
Holger Danske, who blogs at his personal space Holger Awakens, argues in his latest post that the hand behind today's explosion is Fatah Al-Islam which has been operating in north Lebanon for the past two years now:
…There is no question in my mind that this was the world of Fatah al Islam which is the al Qaeda linked group that vowed revenge against the government and its military after they were squashed in operations in northern Lebanon. Fatah al Islam is a Sunni group and of course, the landscape of Lebanon is dominated by Shia Hezbollah…
…The Lebanese have tried to sweep Fatah al Islam under the rug ever since last year but as we can see, they aren't going away and they certainly haven't given up their vow of revenge. I would have to say that this bombing is going to probably force the government into a huge crackdown in the nothern areas and if that happens, it could really get bloody – and not just with Fatah al Islam …
Manuela Paraipan posted an interesting article, discussing how extremists are benefiting from the instability in Lebanon and how the Army can't contain such groups due to the same reasons:
My point is that this group of extremists can be contained, but for that you need the army to go to the places well known to many in the country, take away the weapons [this time for real], put check points in the problematic areas, and the intelligence to keep them under surveillance. The problem is that here even when they act its a half measure. They need more approvals, more green lights from countless leaders, self called leaders, imaginary masters and so on. This type of mentality harms the security of the country. I have no reasonable explanation [I am not interested in excuses] for it.
After reading the news on her laptop in the morning, A Diamond in Sunlight reacts to the event while watching it from abroad:
And this morning the cheers stopped when I sleepily turned on my laptop to read the news over breakfast.
At first I didn’t quite believe it. I saw “Deadly blast rocks Lebanese city” on the BBC news site and thought: there’s something wrong with the BBC today. Its broadcasting old news – this bombing happened in August.
But it didn’t. I’m so sorry for the people of Tripoli, who already face the challenges of deep poverty and political powerlessness. And I am terribly sorry for the Army, whose soldiers and commanders do not need these terrorist attacks when they are trying to build a strong institution for all Lebanese to be proud of.