Oct 21 2012 - 01:59

Clashes erupt after Lebanon bids farewell to Gen. Hassan and companion

Clashes erupt after Lebanon bids farewell to Gen. Hassan and companion Lebanon, news ,lbci ,أخبار bids,Lebanon,after,erupt,Clashes,
Clashes erupt after Lebanon bids farewell to Gen. Hassan and companion
Lebanon News

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called on all his partisans to leave the streets of Beirut. He also placed the security of Bayt al-Wassat in  the "hands of the government Serail." This as angry mourners marched towards the Lebanese government offices after the funeral of slain security officer Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan. Using sticks and stones they clashed with ISF members and broke the outer barrier of the Serail. Gunshots were heard in the vicinity of the complex. Security apparatuses resorted to tear gas to disperse the crowds. For his part, Future Bloc MP Nuhad Mashnouq stated through LBCI that the riots would not subside until the government resigns.

"Mikati leave, get out," chanted hundreds of protesters. They also chanted slogans against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who they accused of being behind the killing of Wissam al-Hassan.

This after top March 14 figures delivered fiery speeches during the ceremony of the late official, with former Prime Minister Fouad Siniora calling for the resignation of Premiere Najib Mikati and directly accusing him of being responsible for the assassination.

"I call on Mikati to leave power immediately; otherwise, he will be accused of providing a cover for the criminals responsible for the assassination," Siniora said.

Siniora and following the eruption of clashes called on all the mourners to leave the streets and head back to the burial site to "pray for the deceased." MP Bahia Hariri and Lebanese Forces Chief Samir Geagea also reiterated the call with Geagea demanding that partisans not attack the Serail, but instead continue demonstrations in a peaceful manner. He later held a press conference whereby he voiced his opinion on the latest events.

Riots were also reported around the Camille Chamoun sports complex with demonstrators burning tires and  blocking the Beirut International Airport road. Tensions ran high in the Kornish el Mazraa and Tareeq el-Jdideh areas. Roads were blocked with burning tires in Sidons Nejmeh Square, Tripoli's Abdeh road and the Naameh road where heavy gunfire was later reported. A tent was also erected in the middle of the Saadnayel, Taanayel-Chtoura Highway  leading to its obstruction. Subsequently the LAF deployed throughout all hot spots and re-opened some of the roads. Clashes also re-erupted on the Jabal Mohsen, Bab el-Tebbaneh axes with gunmen appearing on Tripoli streets. Two people were reported wounded in Jabal Mohsen, four in Bab el-Tebbaneh and one in al-Baqqar. Shells were also heard crashing at the scene of the fighting.

Speaking with LBCI MP Sami Gemayel stated the call made to attack the Serail was not March 14's, adding that demonstrations and opinions must be expressed in a civilized manner. The Kataeb Party then called on all its partisans to withdraw from the site of the Serail. For his part, Mufti of Tripoli and the North Sheikh Malek Chaar said that the Serail and security are a red line, "we must not destroy our national structure."

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Mikati’s adviser Fares Gemayel blamed the Future bloc for the Serail riots, saying that the condemnation of both Hariri and Siniora is futile. "What happened today exceeded rowdiness, it was the complete opposite of a peaceful demonstration," he said. Minister Ahmad Karami also spoke to LBCI whereby he said, "Mikati is not holding on to power and he will not resign due to pressure exerted by protesters or because of the chaos taking over the country."

FPM MP Ibrahim Kanaan described today's events as shameful saying: "taking over the government cannot be achieved via attacking the government and its institutions. It is a conflict of power," he said.

For his part, Mufti of the Republic Sheikh Mohammad Rachid Qabbani said that "the Lebanese scene is painful given the developments which took place following the funeral of Martyr Wisam al-Hassan," stressing that what happened outside the Serail was unacceptable.

Earlier and amid a sea of black, flower wreaths, Islamic chants and church bell chimes, Lebanon bade farewell to Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan and his companion Chief warrant officer Ahmad Sahyouni. The funeral procession commenced from the headquarters of the ISF in Ashrafieh, passing through the explosion site, reaching Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut where Hassan was buried alongside late Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who also was a victim of an assassination in 2005.    

Preceded by a military honor to the Martyr Brig. Gen Hassan and his companion Chief warrant Officer Sahyouni; the service was attended by the family members of the deceased as well as Lebanese President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati, Lebanese Internal Security Forces Major General Ashraf Rifi, the Lebanese Army Commander General Jean Kahwaji, Minister of Interior and Municipalities Marwan Charbel.

Internal Security Forces Chief Ashraf Rifi and President Michel Sleiman delivered tribute speeches, before awarding the Martyr Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan with National Order of the Cedar in Grade of Grand Officer.

During his speech, Sleiman urged the Judiciary to accelerate the issuance of the indictment in the case of former Minister Michel Samaha. He also called on the government "not to provide political cover for the perpetrators of this crime."

Sleiman added that "the security institution is being punished by the assassination of its chief", noting that the Information branch, headed by the Martyr Brig. Gen. Hassan, has succeeded in uncovering espionage and terrorism networks and preventing sedition.

Sleiman stressed that "martyrdom unites the Lebanese people and the Lebanese institutions, particularly the political and security institutions".

The coffins of Brig. Gen. Hassan and his companion had earlier reached the headquarters of ISF wrapped in the Lebanese flag.

Condolences for Martyr Brig. General Wissam al-Hassan’s death are being accepted in the hall of Mohammed Al Amin Mosque in downtown Beirut.

On the ground:

Earlier, March 14 supporters headed to Beirut's Martyrs Square to participate in the funeral of Martyr Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan who was assassinated on Friday in Ashrafieh. Popular crowds from Akkar made their way towards the capital to participate in the public funeral.            

Masses condemning the crime stretched from Martyr’s Square to Sassine Square as well as various Lebanese cities from Beirut towards Tripoli and Sidon in preparation for the popular funeral.              

Meanwhile, March 14 forces called for "rescuing the Lebanese situation via the resignation of the current cabinet and its PM Najib Mikati."

Internal Security Forces and Lebanese Armed forces set up road blocks and cordoned off Beirut's central Martyrs' Square ahead of the public funeral.

Gatherers hoisted pictures of late PM Rafic Hariri and Former PM Saad Hariri in addition to the pictures of the Martyr Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan as well as the Lebanese flags and flags of the Future movement, Lebanese Forces, Kataeb Party, the Progressive Socialist Party, and the Syrian Revolution.

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