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Lebanon after Qaa Explosions: A New Phase of Countering Terrorism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Lebanese army soldiers secure the area near the site where suicide bomb attacks took place in the Christian village of Qaa, in the Bekaa valley, Lebanon June 27, 2016. REUTERS/Hassan Abdallah TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY

Beirut- The unprecedented explosions in the village of Qaa, North Beqaa, have led to a new phase of terrorist operations different from what Lebanon had witnessed in the past few years, driving a total security and political alert.

More than 24 hours following the attacks, investigations are still ongoing to uncover the party and the purpose behind them. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombings.

Interior Minister Nohad Mashnouq said yesterday “bombers came from inside Syria and not from refugee camps.”

For his part, Lebanese Army Commander Jean Qahwaji revealed that three of the bombers were Syrians, adding: “We were expecting to reach a new phase in the way terrorists operate.”

Security General Director General Ibrahim Abbas said it was not certain if there was a woman among the bombers in the Qaa village, as claimed yesterday. Abbas said that the security apparatus had information about expected explosions due to some confessions and investigations it conducted earlier.

Lebanon’s Cabinet issued a statement following its meeting yesterday, saying: ““The attack on the Lebanese national security and the unfamiliar manner in which it was executed usher in a new phase in the state’s confrontation with terrorism, which targets Lebanon’s security and stability.”

Prime Minister Tammam Salam called for “a national mobilization,” and feared that what happened in Qaa would be the start of terrorist operations in other Lebanese areas.

During his visit to Qaa yesterday, Mashnouq said: “The attacks that happened were expected and we already said that the security apparatus, the Army, the Internal Security Forces and the Security General were capable to foil in the past a large number of terrorist operations, however this cannot succeed at all times.” Mashnouq called on politicians and parties in Lebanon to help elect a new President, because “political security is the most important.”

A Cabinet session headed by Prime Minister Salam was held yesterday in Beirut to follow up on the latest security developments. General Qahwaji and Mashnouq also chaired another urgent security meeting for the same purpose.

A parliamentary source told Asharq Al-Awsat that there are several scenarios for the purpose behind the attacks in Qaa.

The source described what happened in Qaa as madness because it showed the deadlock the terrorists were facing when they were unable to achieve their targets. “The situation is dangerous and no one is capable to predict or offer information about what could happen after today,” the source added.

Four suicide bombers carrying explosions had blew themselves up on Monday morning in Qaa killing 5 civilians and injuring 15 others. Later at night, four other suicide bombers detonated themselves in the same village injuring 13 and spreading panic among residents.

The Qaa explosions, similar to all security incidents, opened the file of Syrian refugees as residents from Qaa had quickly accused refugees living there for being behind the explosions.

On Monday night, the Bekaa governor had canceled any decision forcing a curfew on Syrian refugees in the Qaa area and Ras Baalbek. Meanwhile, the army had carried out dawn raids at separate camps for Syrian refugees and detained 103 Syrians for illegal entry into the country. Two Lebanese were also arrested for possessing a Kalashnikov and a gun.

Local mayor Bashir Matar told AFP: “We fear the presence of other terrorists, this is why the Lebanese Army has launched search operations in the area.”

Matar added that due to the critical security situation, the funeral of one of the victims was postponed from Tuesday to a later date. Media outlets said the funeral would be held today.

Several events were also cancelled on Tuesday.

The French Foreign Ministry condemned yesterday the terrorist attacks and expressed France’s “solidarity with Lebanon.”

Also the Embassy of Italy in Lebanon condemned the attacks and asserted its support for the Lebanese Army and the Security Forces.