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New Jdeideh 19 March 2005  

New Jdeideh shopping district wrecked by night-time car blast    by: Daily Star.

EXPLOSION RAISES FRESH FEARS
BEIRUT: The shopping district of New Jdeideh resembled a war zone over the weekend after a bomb exploded early Saturday, wounding 11 people and reviving memories of the country’s 15-year civil war.
It remained unclear Sunday whether the bomb was attached to or placed under a Datsun which was thrown 20 meters by the blast, reducing it to a contorted wreck.
Some witnesses said the car had attempted to stop in front of a bingo hall but security guards had told the driver to move along.
The driver then parked the car down the road, where it exploded only minutes later. Other witnesses said the car belonged to a 72-year-old local resident. Still more rumors said armed men had forced a man to park the car, and then kidnapped him.
However, as of yet, no theories have been confirmed. But there can be no question about the damage the blast caused. Occurring shortly after midnight Friday, the blast created a 2-meter-deep crater, gutted the building under which the car was parked and devastated shops on the ground floor of adjacent buildings, in addition to blowing off the facades of apartments, in some cases as high as the eighth floor.

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Mona Mhanna,57,was at her home in the predominantly Christian neighborhood; she was watching television when the explosion occurred.
She explained: “There is no one ‘important’ here.We are all ordinary people.We don’t believe in sectarian violence anymore.”
Mona Mhanna,57,was at her home in the predominantly Christian neighborhood; she was watching television when the explosion occurred.
She explained: “There is no one ‘important’ here.We are all ordinary people.We don’t believe in sectarian violence anymore.”
Simon Hayek’s panicked eyes reflected all the fears and desperation of a people who have already seen too much. “We have had enough,” said the optician, 55, who lives on the second floor of a building hit hard by the blast. Hayek’s sister, Philomene, could not hold back her tears. She cried: “What will we do now? Why do the poor always pay for the quarrels of the elite?” Chawki Haddad, 50, who lives in the vicinity of the blast site, said: “The windows in my house were blown.
“We have had enough,” said the optician, 55, who lives on the second floor of a building hit hard by the blast. Hayek’s sister, Philomene, could not hold back her tears. She cried: “What will we do now? Why do the poor always pay for the quarrels of the elite?” Chawki Haddad, 50, who lives in the vicinity of the blast site, said: “The windows in my house were blown.
I understood it was an explosion. It’s war experience.” With the wail of sirens, the presence of the Red Cross, army, internal security forces and mukhabarat (intelligence), the scene brought back memories for many residents of the 1975-90 war.
Among clean-up crews sweeping broken glass, a man was screaming at the gathered military officers: “Liars! You are all liars! You will again hide clues and hinder the truth.

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”Accusations have been repeatedly leveled by the opposition that security officials have hidden evidence in the assassination of former Premier Rafik Hariri.
Haddad said: “It is understood that this is Syria’s marks, everybody knows this.
They can’t trick us anymore. I am optimistic about Lebanon’s future.”
However, not everyone was as optimistic.Walking along the blast site Saturday morning, the usually bustling street’s shops were all closed, with a few open only to clean up the damage inflicted by the blast. Lamia, a shop owner who was busy trying to save what was left of her merchandise, said: “Whoever did this is trying to discourage us and make us lose any kind of hope in this country’s future.”
She added: “We’re not scared. We will go on. We’ll clean the rubble and go on; we’d rather die with our head up than live with no honor.”
In recognition of the financial crisis the bombing has caused, the municipality of Jdeideh has offered to pay compensation to the owners of shops damaged. Lamia said: “That’s what they promised us today, let’s just hope they keep their promises.”
Another shop owner said: “We had our hopes put on Palm Sunday’s market flow.” He added that the Easter season was already “dead enough” due to the national mourning for Hariri.
“Things will only get worse now for us,” the devastated man said.
“I lost my shop. I lost my income for the months to come.
Who is going to make that up for me?” Echoing the sentiments of many of the area’s residents, he added: “I don’t think I’m going to stay in the country for long.
It’s becoming even more insecure by the hour.
” With residents of the hardest hit buildings not allowed to return to their apartments until midday Saturday, some said they had been forced to spend the night on the street, at their relative’s, or in their cars.
Kevork Hakimian said: “My house and car are destroyed; I lost everything! We have no where else to go.”
Screaming at members of the Internal Security Forces as he headed to what remained of his car with his family in tow, Hakimian said: “We’re going to ask for sanctuary in some church now while you fix this up for us!”








 
 
"Is it an offense, si ti a mistake, is it a crime to take a hopeful view of the prospects of your own country? Why should it be? Ahy should patriotism be identical? Hope is the mainspring of patriotism."


David Lloyd
 
 


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