BEIRUT (Reuters) -Lebanese mourners held a funeral on Friday for two Sunni Muslims slain this week in an attack linked to sectarian tensions but leaders called for calm and said their deaths should not be politicized.
The bodies of Ziad Qabalan, 25, and Ziad Ghandour, 12, who were abducted earlier this week, were found on Thursday in a field. Qabalan had been a member of the pro-government Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) along with Ghandour’s father.
Security sources said at least one suspect had been detained and others were being sought in the killing. They said the two had been killed by several bullets to the head and body.
Their killings were believed to be a revenge attack for the slaying of a Shi’ite Muslim activist in January clashes between supporters of the government, which has Sunni backing, and the opposition, which includes Lebanon’s main Shi’ite groups.
Rival leaders have condemned the killings and appealed for calm. Druze PSP leader Walid Jumblatt said official investigations must take their course and that the killings should not be politicized.
Shi’ite Muslim group Hezbollah, a powerful faction within the opposition, called on Lebanon’s security forces and judiciary to bring the killers to justice.
The abductions have stirred memories of sectarian kidnappings during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war. Many Lebanese fear that the current political crisis, the country’s worst since the war, could turn into a new conflict.
Newspaper As-Safir wrote of Lebanese fear of “attempts to move the ‘Iraqi scenario’ to their fragile arena,” in reference to sectarian violence in Iraq. Commentator Talal Salman wrote that the killing had shown the dangers faced by Lebanon.
“The experience has been bitter, but it has alerted all to the fact that another mistake will take the country to a catastrophe from which there will be no resurrection,” he wrote.
Lebanese media had reported that Qabalan and Ghandour had been kidnapped by members of a Shi’ite clan who had vowed to avenge the killing of their relative in the January clashes.
But, named by media as the Shi’ite Shamas clan, the group condemned the kidnapping and distanced itself from the abduction.
Ten people have been killed in sporadic violence since the opposition launched a campaign in December to topple the government, which is backed by the country’s most powerful Sunni leader, Saad al-Hariri.