BEIRUT (Dispatches) – The Lebanese army said on Monday it had detained a man wanted over an attack on Shia Muslim mourners at a funeral where three people were killed, after the Hezbollah resistance movement demanded the perpetrators be detained.
The shooting in Khaldeh, a town south of Beirut, has prompted leaders to warn against an escalation as Lebanon grapples with political and financial crises.
The attack targeted the funeral of Ali Shibli who was shot dead on Saturday during a wedding. Footage of a video about the Sunday incident broadcast on Hezbollah’s al-Manar TV channel showed a volley of gunfire being fired on the convoy of mourners arriving at Shibli’s home in Khaldeh.
Army intelligence stormed the homes of a number of wanted people and detained a man who was involved in the funeral attack, the army said.
In a statement on the killing of Shibli, Hezbollah called on “competent authorities to respond firmly to perpetrators and prosecute instigators,” adding that he “died by the logic of impunity and fanaticism.”
Hezbollah has said it is seeking to maintain calm but said the attackers must be handed over. The group says it is a planned ambush.
“You don’t want strife, then come and surrender those killers to the state,” Hassan Fadlallah, a Hezbollah MP, said in an interview with al-Jadeed TV late on Sunday.
People were “boiling” and the group could not control them all, he said.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in a statement that the situation “does not allow any security incidents” that could inflame tensions.
He also called on the army leadership to take immediate measures to restore calm to the Khaldeh area, arrest the shooters and withdraw the gunmen from it.
“The current circumstances do not allow any security breach or practices that fuel the required sedition and nip it in the bud, and all parties must cooperate to achieve this goal,” Aoun added.
He also ordered the security forces to “ensure the safe movement of citizens on the international road.”
Prime Minister-designate Najib Mekati, for his part, called on the head of the army to boost its security presence in Khaldeh, which is situated on a coastal highway leading to the south of Lebanon.