Former PM Karami dismisses attack on his son as "mistake"

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Smoke billows from a burning car that burst into flames after gunmen opened fire on the convoy of Lebanese Minister Faisal Karami in the northern city of Tripoli on 18 January, 2013. (Photo: AFP)

Published Friday, January 18, 2013

Updated at 3:26 pm Former Prime Minister Omar Karami has called the brutal attack Friday on the convoy of his son, Minister Faisal Karami, a "mistake," and said he won't hold anyone responsible for the incident.

Lebanese Youth and Sports Minister Faisal Karami previously dubbed the assault on his motorcade "an assassination attempt" against him. Islamist protesters fired at and injured five members of the minister's entourage.

Karami's motorcade was driving through the Azmi neighborhood, better known as Nour square, where a group of demonstrators shut roads demanding amnesty for a group of Islamists detained on charges of attacking soldiers.

"I can't imagine that this was anything other than an assassination attempt," Karami, who escaped unscathed, said in an interview with al-Jadeed TV this afternoon. His father's statement, made as the Minister sat on the same table, indicated that he rescinded the remark.

The Minister is a native of Tripoli and is also the nephew of eight-time Prime Minister Rachid Karami, killed in 1987 in a helicopter blast.

"Divine intervention protected Tripoli from a dangerous incident that targeted the historical and patriotic [Karami] household which has offered the country the most valuable of sacrifices, most notably the martyred Prime Minister Rachid Karami," Prime Minister Najib Mikati wrote in a Tweet.

Tripoli has been embroiled in militia fighting between supporters and opponents of the Syrian regime since 2011. The fighting is largely concentrated in the impoverished neighborhoods of Bab el-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen and contains extremist Islamist elements suspected of being affiliated with Al-Qaeda.

Some media outlets suggested the protestors were 'provoked' by the motorcade's driving through the demonstration. It is unclear whether the gunfire that followed came from protestors or from assailants arriving from outside the demonstration.

According to an Al-Akhbar correspondent, Karami's convoy took a route that attempted to sidestep the demonstrations, meeting protestors only as it neared the minister's office in the area.

No arrests have so far been reported.

Islamist groups, who promptly condemned the violence, are expected to release a statement at 5 pm Beirut time.

The minister accused the assailants of firing an anti-tank rifle grenade known as Inerga, known to be widely available in Lebanon's second major city.

Karami was not in one of the cars attacked. Five escorts in a separate car were sent to a hospital. A targeted car, seen in the tweet above, went on fire and was nearly destroyed.

Army command has released a statement saying calm has returned to Tripoli as troops deploy extensively in area.



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