||Zalka 24 August 2005
Security forces investigate latest blast by:
Investigator in Zalka explosion says 'we are currently
interrogating witnesses and have no suspects so far'
BEIRUT: Security agencies scrambled to keep the situation under control Tuesday
as yet another bomb rocked the Christian neighborhood of Zalka, north of the
capital Monday night.
The Internal Security Forces, Civil Defense and army were all dispatched
immediately to Zalka's Moussa Commercial Center and neighboring Promenade
Hotel, just one month after a bomb was set in the Beirut nightclub promenade of
Monnot in Achrafieh.
Eight people were wounded in the latest explosion, which came only a few hours
after security forces discovered one ton of powerful explosives concealed in an
abandoned textile factory near the North Lebanon town of Zghorta.
The wounded were rushed to Haroun Hospital and were listed as: Joseph Abdo, 20;
Mark Kamel, 18; Joelle Baroud, 11; Rania Baroud, 36; Rita Nohra, 30; Karmen
Makedichian, 54; Azar Makedichian, 55; and Aroyo Kevork, 18.
Sources from Haroun Hospital said none of those admitted had suffered serious
wounds and identified all eight victims as being Lebanese citizens.
"Everything that could have been done was done, with all the security agencies
responding promptly and more efficiently as a result of last week's training,"
said Lieutenant Colonel Elie Baradie of the ISF in a telephone interview with
The Daily Star.
Baradie was referring to a practice drill last week, wherein army troops and
police were taught how to operate jointly in the event of car bombings and
other security breaches.
"We have now handed over the case file along with all the evidence and
information compiled from Monday's bombing to the judicial investigators," he
Zalka is the latest Christian neighborhood to be targeted by a series of
bombings in Lebanon since the February assassination of former Premier Rafik
Jean Fahd, the military court magistrate heading the investigation into
Monday's attack, said yesterday there had been no arrests made. Early reports
said security forces were seen detaining five men shortly after the explosion.
"We are currently interrogating witnesses that are helping in the investigation
and have no suspects so far," he said.
The magistrate added that the latest bomb, while similar to previous ones in
size (some 20 to 30 kilograms of explosives) was more dangerous than its
predecessors as it was contained in "a small bag that was placed in a dark
tight corner easily missed by security," in contrast to the previous bombs
placed underneath parked cars.
No arrests have been made in connection with any of the 10 attacks this year.
According to Fahd, "The aim of all these explosions appears to be to sow fear
and terror in the hearts of citizens and cause as much material damage as
possible to destabilize security and harm the tourist season."
Meanwhile, Zalka Mayor Michel Murr released an official statement yesterday to
announce that everything was now "back to normal."
"Everything can now be cleaned up near the bomb site from shattered glass to
other debris, leaving the actual bomb site off limits for 48 hours, open only
to the local investigations," he said.
The explosion will not affect Zalka, he added. "The marketplace will return as
busy and bustling with life as ever."
Murr said that all shops within "a 500-meter radius" from the blast were
damaged, adding that the municipality, with help from sanitation workers and
Civil Defense members, had "helped citizens clean the damage from the explosion
from their houses and shops."
According to the mayor, the goal of such explosions is to "intimidate citizens
and tourists. But this criminal act will not hinder us from working hard to go
on with our lives."
Abi Samra, an employee of one of Zalka's shops damaged in the blast, said
people had expected an explosion would happen in the area as it is a busy
Fadi, a senior citizen residing not far from the blast site, said he was
watching television Monday night when a loud bang shook him.
"Thank God the windows were open or else the glass would have shattered," he
said. "I can barely afford to pay for my food. I can't pay for any damages
caused by a blast."
Free Patriotic Movement activists held a rally in the evening in front of the
Moussa Center in protest of the unrelenting attacks on the country's security
The country's security agencies held a meeting earlier at the Military
Tribunal, after which an official statement was released praising security
If you are damaged from one of the latest terrorist explosions, and wish to get
help and support from ULSF, please
download the application (PDF)
and fax it back to us: 961-1-349614.
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