Last updated: 11 August, 2013

Shiite gunmen kill Sunni in Lebanon revenge ambush

Shiite gunmen killed a Sunni man in an ambush Sunday in eastern Lebanon in apparent revenge for a deadly attack on local Shiite clan members in June, a military source said.

Four people were also wounded in the ambush, including the head of Arsal municipality, a Sunni district in the area, local residents and the military source told AFP.

“Their car was attacked in an ambush while they were returning from Arsal after participating in a hostage exchange,” the source said.

He said the attack was carried out by members of the Shiite Jaafar family as the car passed the town of Labwe.

The exchange of hostages was between Arsal residents and members of another Shiite clan, the Moqdads.

Arsal municipality head Ali Hojeiri was lightly wounded in the ambush, the source said.

The attack was believed to be an act of revenge for the June 15 killing of three Lebanese Shiites and a Turkish citizen. The four men were killed as they smuggled fuel in the region, a security source said at the time.

Members of the Jaafar family, to which two of the slain men belonged, responded furiously and the Lebanese military called for calm in the area, which is home to both Shiite and Sunni regions.

While the deaths were believed to be linked to control of the lucrative smuggling trade in the region, they come amid new tensions between Lebanon’s Sunni and Shiites communities sparked by the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Lebanon’s Sunnis, including Arsal residents, are largely sympathetic to the Syrian uprising, which is dominated by Sunnis.

Shiite Lebanese, however, back the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and the powerful Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah has sent fighters to battle alongside his troops.

Arsal, near the border with Syria, has become a key transit point for weapons and Syrian rebels. Syrian aircraft have carried out several raids on the area.