23 Aug 2013
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REPORT: Death toll on the rise after two explosions rock northern Lebanese city of Tripoli

REPORT: Death toll on the rise after two explosions rock northern Lebanese city of Tripoli Lebanon, news ,lbci ,أخبار after,rise,toll,Death,REPORT,
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Conflicting reports emerged on Friday following the 2 explosions that rocked the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.            

In this regard, Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil told LBCI that at least 27 people were killed and 358 others were wounded; whereas, Reuters quoted medical and security officials as saying that the death toll from the twin blasts that hit two mosques in Tripoli rose to 42.       
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"I see many bodies inside several burned cars," said the LBCI reporter, speaking from near the al-Taqwa mosque where the first explosion went off.            

Two explosions rocked the city reportedly near the al-Taqwa and al-Sallam mosques, leaving dozens killed and injured.

George Kettaneh, the Lebanese Red Cross Operations Director told LBCI the blasts resulted in 27 deaths and 500 wounded, however added the number could be much higher as time progresses.

The final death toll stood at 45 with the injuries rising to almost 500 persons.

Thick black smoke billowed as gunshots were fired into the air. Ambulances rushed to the scene and security forces cordoned off the area for fears of further attacks.

In the details, one blast occurred outside the al-Taqwa mosque as Friday prayers ended. The other hit central Tripoli near the Salam mosque facing the residence of the former general director of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces Major General Ashraf Riffi. Sources confirmed to LBCI that Riffi was unhurt in the explosion and that all his family members were safe.

The al-Taqwa mosque is where hardline Salafist Sheikh Salem Rafei preaches. He has been known for his anti-Syrian regime sentiment.

The blasts come amid rising tension in Lebanon resulting from Syria's civil war, which has sharply polarized the country along sectarian lines and between supporters and opponents of the regime of President Bashar Assad. 

***To watch the VIDEO that was broadcast after the explosion, please click on this link

***To watch another VIDEO from the site of Tripoli's explosions, please click on this link

**
*To watch the camera footage purporting moment of the explosion outside al-Salam mosque, please click on this link  

***To watch the 2nd Video depicting the explosion from inside Tripoli’s al-Salam mosque, please click on this link

Meetings:

A meeting was held in Tripoli’s Serail under the chairmanship of Public Prosecutor Judge Samir Hamoud and the Acting Internal Security Forces Head General Ibrahim Basbous.                      
The meeting was attended by the Gendarmerie Commander Brigadier General Joseph Douaihy, Brigadier General Bassam Al-Ayouby, Head of Tripoli’s Intelligence Bureau Lieutenant Colonel Ahmad Adra, and various ISF officials.         

The meeting aimed at giving necessary instructions to intensify surveys and investigations in order to pursue perpetrators, and arrest them.      

Another meeting was held at the office of the Al-Jamaa Al-Islamiya in the presence of Sheikh Salem Rafei.       

This as, Deputies and officials in Tripoli called for cooperation with security apparatuses in order to maintain the city’s stability.


Judicial proceedings:
                 

Public Prosecutor Judge Samir Hamoud tasked the Military Court Judge Dani Zaani, the Military Police, Intelligence Branch, and Information Bureau with investigating the twin blasts that targeted the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.


Army Command:

The Army Command issued a communique confirming the 2 blasts that occurred near the Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques in the northern city of Tripoli leaving a number of casualties and extensive damage to the properties of citizens.

The Army Command added that the military police and investigators immediately rushed to the scene, urging citizens to facilitate the path for concerned apparatuses to carry out their duties. 

HRC:


The High Relief Commission tasked LAF survey committees with detecting the damages that resulted from the explosions in Tripoli. 

Interior Minister:
 

Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told LBCI the explosive inside the vehicle beside the al-Salam mosque weighed at 100 KG, adding that experts did not determine the weight of the explosive that burst outside the Al-Taqwa mosque.       

Public mourning day:  

Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati issued on Friday a memorandum declaring tomorrow (Saturday) as a national mourning day. The memorandum stipulates that work will stop for one hour (from 11:00 am until noon) in all public and private institutions.

  • REACTIONS:               

Nabil Rahim:             

Local Salafist cleric, Sheikh Nabil Rahim confirmed that Sheikh Salem Rafei and the Sheikh of the Al-Salam mosque, Bilal Baroudi, were unhurt in the blasts, adding that they have both been transferred to a safe location.                

Sheikh Rahim told LBCI that the first blast exploded outside the Al-Taqwa mosque during Friday prayers whereas the second one exploded just as worshipers were leaving the al-Salam mosque.               

Rahim added that a plot is being drawn against both Lebanon and Tripoli, stressing that there is a party seeking to foment sectarian strife.                 

Tripoli officials:             

Caretaker Finance Minister Mohammad Safadi told LBCI that "Tripoli is not the only target of such explosions; the entire Lebanese territory is," calling on citizens to maintain self-restraint.         
In turn, caretaker State Minister Ahmad Karameh also called on all citizens of Tripoli to practice utmost restraint, adding that the Lebanese state should be held accountable for the country’s security situation.                       

Former deputy Ahmad Jesr told LBCI that the explosions are a criminal act, and mentioned that security forces should follow up on the security breaches in the country since the “self-security policy” did not succeed in protecting Lebanese regions from explosions, he said in reference to the Roueis explosion, which occurred south of Beirut last week.                                  

Mikati – Hariri - Berri - Riffi:
             

The media office of caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati confirmed that the latter is not in Lebanon, adding that he cut short his visit to return to the country amid the current situation.                  
PM Mikati denounced the explosions that targeted Tripoli, and said they aim at pushing the northern city towards civil and sectarian strife, the media office added.              

Mikati reportedly contacted various Lebanese security officials to follow up on field investigations carried out to reveal the circumstances of the incident.                     

The caretaker PM also tasked caretaker Health Minister with contacting all hospitals instructing them to receive the wounded at the expense of the Health Ministry.                       

For his part, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called on political leaders and officials to act in a wise and reasonable manner in order to face such crimes, and urged them to cooperate in order to facilitate the work of the judiciary.              

As for House Speaker Nabih Berri, he said that the same criminal hands that targeted the Beirut Southern Suburb's Roueis region are behind the Tripoli blasts.               

In the same context, former general director of the Lebanese Internal Security Forces Major General Ashraf Riffi told LBCI that the judiciary should bear the responsibility of identifying those behind the explosions, adding that “Lebanon is at the beginning of a storm.” 

Hezbollah: 
                     
Hezbollah also denounced the explosions that targeted the northern city of Tripoli, saying "the criminal hand of terrorism is killing innocent people in various Lebanese regions."            

In a statement, the Lebanese Shiite group said these explosions "are a translation of the criminal plot that aims at leading the country into strife and internal violence under the pretext of sectarianism."                 

Aoun – Faysal Karameh – Franjieh – Patriarch Rai:
 

Meanwhile, Change and Reform Bloc leader MP Michel Aoun called for uniting efforts to contain the situation, adding that such explosions are the result of a plot drawn to target the Lebanese nation.                     

In turn, caretaker Minister of Youth and Sports Faysal Karameh told LBCI that Lebanon has become a "proxy battlefield", adding that the country may not be able to handle such security incidents.                       

Head of the Marada party Deputy Sleiman Frangieh denounced in a statement the terrorist attack that targeted the citizens of Tripoli, and called for uniting efforts to immunize the country.             

In the same regard, Maronite Patriarch Cardinal Beshara Boutros Rai denounced the explosions targeting Lebanese regions, and killing innocent people, calling on the residents of Tripoli to practice restraint in light of this attack and refrain from violence as a means for revenge.                   

Salam – Jumblatt – Ghosn:        

Prime Minister-Designate Tammam Salam described the explosions that targeted Tripoli as the continuation of a malevolent plot that aims at inciting strife in the country, urging citizens to remain tolerant and act in a reasonable manner to contain the situation.                    

In the same context, Head of the National Struggle Front MP Walid Jumblatt dubbed the attack a horrible criminal act, stressing on the importance of cooperation between the Lebanese factions to form a national unity cabinet that protects the Lebanese citizens.           

Jumblatt added that Israel is the sole beneficiary of Lebanese and Arab divisions.              

For his part, caretaker Defense Minister Fayez Ghosn also warned of further repercussions, and warned Lebanese citizens to remain vigilant "since the series of booby trapped car explosions is far from over."    


  • INTERNATIONAL POSITIONS:    

Syria:

The Syrian Ministry of Information denounced the attacks on Tripoli and considered that the perpetrators of today’s blasts are also behind the Roueis explosion which targeted Beirut’s Southern Suburbs last week.

 
US Embassy:
                           

The US Embassy condemned the bombings that targeted Tripoli’s mosques, extending its condolences for the loss of innocent lives.             

The embassy reiterated the United States’ condemnation of any violence in Lebanon, and called on parties to exercise calm and restraint.

On another note, the US Embassy called on its citizens to avoid traveling to Lebanon due to safety and security concerns.

UN Security Council:

Members of the Security Council condemned the terrorist attacks that targeted the northern city of Tripoli, extending their condolences to the victims and their families.            

Members of the Security Council also expressed their sympathy to all those injured in this heinous act and to the people and Government of Lebanon.

EU:          

The European Union Foreign Affairs Chief Catherine Ashton denounced the attack, reaffirming that terrorism and any use of violence against civilians are completely unacceptable.

United Nations' Secretary-General
:

The United Nations' Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the explosions that burst outside two Mosques in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, extending his condolences to the families of those killed and to the Lebanese government.           

The Secretary-General called on all Lebanese to exercise restraint, to remain united, and to support their State institutions, particularly the security forces, in maintaining calm and order in Tripoli and throughout the country, and in preventing the recurrence of such destructive actions.                 

The Secretary-General expressed his hope that those responsible for such cowardly acts of violence will be brought to justice as soon as possible.

To watch the video purporting the explosions please click on the image above - Warning: Scenes may be graphic
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