Lebanese soldier killed in army bus attack

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Friday, October 17, 2014

Updated at 2:52 pm (GMT +3): Lebanese soldier Jean al-Hashem was killed early Friday when a bus carrying army troops came under fire by unidentified militants in northern Lebanon, National News Agency (NNA) reported.

The bus was ambushed at the entrance of Khirbet Daoud town along the Bireh road in the northern district of Akkar at 4:45 am (GMT +3).

The forensic evidence department began a survey of the crime scene and the body was taken to a hospital in Hashem’s hometown, Qoubaiyat.

Shortly afterwards, gunmen opened fire in Tripoli on two army patrols and tossed a grenade towards army positions at 3:55 and 4:45 am. No casualties were reported.

Meanwhile, villagers of Bireh, Qoubaiyat, and Andakat blocked the towns entrances in solidarity with the army and in protest of the crime.

Last week the district of Akkar witnessed the death of army soldier, Milad Mohammed Issa, who was shot by unknown militants on a motorcycle. Another soldier, Mohammed Fakhr Eddine Haydar, was injured.

In a separate incident early Friday, soldier Jamal Aashek got injured when unidentified gunmen shot at an army patrol in Zahriye, NNA added. The wounded soldier was transferred to a nearby hospital in Zgharta for treatment.

Similarly, on Monday, an unidentified man threw a grenade at an army post in Tripoli.

The Lebanese army has been facing a wave of attacks from militants linked to extremist groups occupying the outskirts of the northeastern town of Ersal.

Last week, two masked gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on Lebanese army posts in the neighborhoods of Talaat al-Amri and Haret al-Sayde in the northern city of Tripoli prompting soldiers to return the fire.

Last Thursday, the Lebanese Army Command said in a statement that the army foiled an infiltration attempt by militants in the northeastern town of Ersal.

The army has been stepping up efforts to prevent fighters from Syria using the Lebanese border town of Ersal and surrounding areas as a base. Anti-Assad insurgents often cross the border, using Ersal to rest or seek medical treatment.

In August, clashes between the Lebanese army and extremist groups in and around Ersal killed dozens.

Islamist militants belonging to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Syria’s Al-Qaeda branch Al-Nusra Front groups captured a group of Lebanese soldiers during the fighting and have since killed at least four of them. They are believed to be holding more than a dozen others.

Stepping up security raids

On Friday, the army arrested more than 35 Syrian nationals in Bireh and Khirbet Daoud in the Akkar district, NNA reported.

According to the agency's correspondent, the army is still implementing security measures and mechanized patrols and setting up roadblocks at fixed crossroads in the region.

On Thursday night, the army arrested Ibrahim Issa Bohlok in Ersal, while he was on his way to the region's terrains using the identity of his brother, the Lebanese Army Command said in a statement.

"During interrogation, the detainee confessed that he, alongside 65 other militants, carried out an attack against an army post in Ersal in August," the statement said. “He also confessed to have murdered an army officer.”

Moreover, in the northern district of Dannieh, citizen Mohammed Nasser al-Manee got killed Thursday night when army forces exchanged fire with armed militants during a raid in the area of Beddawi, NNA reported. The body was taken to a hospital in Qubba.

Earlier in the afternoon, the Lebanese army shot at a motorcycle carrying two after they refused to stop, wounding one while the other escaped.

The motorcycle was traveling on an illegal earthen road that connects Ersal with its outskirts.

(Al-Akhbar)

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