Targeting commuters in a Christian area. Is the bombing connected to the anniversary of the Hariri assassination, as many in the article suggest, or is it a coincidentally timed attack aiming to intimidate that population into behaving like good dhimmis? By Sam F. Ghattas for Associated Press:
BEIRUT, Lebanon – Bombs packed with metal pellets tore through two commuter buses in a mainly Christian area of Lebanon on Tuesday, a day before the second anniversary of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri’s assassination. At least three people were killed and
20 wounded in the coordinated attack, the state-run news agency said.
A senior politician speculated the blasts were meant to scare people away from a rally Wednesday to commemorate Hariri, a gathering that has heightened sectarian tensions in Lebanon and highlighted its political paralysis.
There were no plans to cancel the rally, organizers said. Senior government, military and security officials were meeting Tuesday to consider ways to keep the demonstration from turning violent.
President Emile Lahoud denounced the explosions, saying they aimed to deepen the divide between the pro-American government of Prime Minister Fuad Saniora, made up of Hariri’s allies, and the opposition, led by Hezbollah, the Shiite guerrilla group backed by
Iran and Syria.
A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media, said the explosions went off minutes apart. As people rushed to the scene of the first bombing, a second bus drove up and blew up, the official said.
“We ran away when the second explosion occurred for fear of more,” said Genevieve Hayek, the owner of a nearby snack bar who is in her 70s. “May God’s wrath fall on all of them who did this. What is the fault of the people just going to work?”
The attack happened shortly after 9 a.m. on a road in the village of Ein Alaq, just south of the town of Bikfaya in the mainly Christian province of northern Metn, some 30 miles northeast of the Lebanese capital.
The Voice Of Lebanon radio station said the buses, which each had about 20 seats, were taking people to work. Such buses run in 10-minute intervals, ferrying people from Christian mountain villages to the coastline and Beirut.
Security officials said the bombs were shaped like bananas and weighed at least 4 pounds and as much as 7 pounds. They were packed with metal pellets and placed under seats in the two buses, officials said.
The bombings come a day before supporters of the U.S.-backed government were to mark the anniversary of Hariri’s 2005 assassination with a huge rally in Beirut.
Walid Jumblatt, a senior pro-government politician, said the explosions were meant to scare people away from the rally.
“It’s to terrorize people who are willing to come,” Jumblatt told Al-Jazeera television.
The assassination “” still the subject of a U.N.-led investigation “” set in motion a reshuffling of Lebanon’s political order. Public outrage at Syria, which many Lebanese blame for the attack, forced Damascus to withdraw its military from Lebanon after
nearly three decades as power brokers.
Bombings and shootings have rocked Lebanon since then, targeting anti-Syrian politicians and journalists, and raising fears the country is on the verge of another civil war.
“This is an act to undermine Lebanon, so that we might end up like Iraq, with strife and people leaving their country,” said Nabil Nekoula, a lawmaker from the district who visited the bomb scene.
Edy Abilamaa, a leading member of the Christian Lebanese Forces pro-government faction, said the way the explosions took place clearly shows they aimed to “kill as many people as possible.”
“I believe that those who kill in Lebanon are known,” Abilamaa said in a veiled allusion to Syria, which denies it was behind the Hariri killing and other explosions in Lebanon.