Detailed Reports Covering the Three bombs that were exploded in Ain Alaq/Lebanon

13 & 14/02/07

Pope implores Lebanese to reject violence and rediscover unity
Benedict XVI sent a telegram of condolence to Patriarch Sfeir for victims of yesterday’s attack. Cardinal Bertone called for prayers for “this martyred land”.
Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Benedict XVI has “implored” the Lebanese people to reject violence and to seek national unity and the common good. In a telegram of condolence for victims of yesterday’s attack, addressed to the Maronite Patriarch, Nasrallah Sfeir, the pope once again expressed his concern for and closeness with the Country of the Cedars.
In the message signed by the Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone and made public today, Benedict XVI said he was “deeply saddened by the serious attack” and expressed “his spiritual nearness and prayer” for families of the victims. “Entrusting to divine mercy those who were tragically lost, the Holy Father invokes the maternal protection of the Virgin Mary over the entire Lebanese nation. He implores the Lebanese people and their leaders to unanimously reject violence and to rediscover in this tragic moment, the motivation for a leap towards national unity and the common good.”
Already yesterday, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone urged “prayers for Lebanon where today there was a serious anti-Christian attack.” He said: “Let us pray for this martyred land for which the Pope has already made several appeals.”

Public Statement
AI Index: MDE 18/002/2007 (Public)
News Service No: 031
14 February 2007
Lebanon: Amnesty International condemns targeting of civilians
Amnesty International condemns in the strongest terms yesterday's bomb attacks on two buses near the town of Bikfaya, a Christian area of Lebanon, north east of Beirut. At least three civilians are reported to have been killed and some 20 injured. Deliberate attacks on civilians can never be justified and those responsible show complete disregard for the most fundamental principles of humanity.
These deadly attacks on civilians represent a further deterioration of the security situation in Lebanon, which has become increasingly polarised, prompting fears of a possible slide towards a new conflict following the civil war which wracked the country from 1975 to 1990. During that conflict mass human rights violations were committed, including some 17,000 enforced disappearances and the killings of thousands of non-combatants.
Amnesty International is calling on political and other leaders in Lebanon urgently to take all possible steps to ensure that the killings of 13 February 2007 are not used as a licence for further violence and that those responsible for yesterday's attacks on civilians are arrested and brought to justice, promptly and fairly and without recourse to the death penalty.
Yesterday's bomb attacks were clearly intended to inflame current political tension. Today is the second anniversary of the killing of former Prime Minster Rafiq al-Hariri, who was killed with 22 others by a massive car-bomb in Beirut. The UN International Independent Investigation Commission (UNIIIC) into the assassination has implicated Syrian and Lebanese officials, and discussions over a proposed international tribunal to try the alleged perpetrators led to the resignation of six government ministers, provoking a political crisis.
Since early December 2006, thousands of demonstrators led by Hizbullah and the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM) have maintained a mass and largely peaceful protest in Beirut, in support of demands that Hizbullah and the FPM be given a greater role in the government. In the week beginning 24 January 2007 various political groups set up armed road-blocks, some seven people were killed, and scores of others injured or arrested. Earlier, on 21 November 2006 in Beirut, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel of the Kataeb (Phalange) Party was shot dead by unknown assassins.
Tensions intensified in Lebanon in the aftermath of the summer war between Hizbullah and Israeli forces in which some 1,000 Lebanese civilians and 43 Israeli civilians were killed and tens of thousands of Lebanese homes and other civilian infrastructure were destroyed.
Amnesty International is urging political leaders to reach a framework for addressing the unresolved issues that have fuelled background grievances and suspicions, including over the international tribunal to prosecute those responsible for the killing of al-Hariri, the composition of a new government and forthcoming parliamentary elections. To be sustainable, any such agreements would need to be accompanied by both adoption in Lebanon of particular reforms of the justice system that Amnesty International has repeatedly called for, and also a wider, international law-based resolution to the regional instability that continues to destabilise and generate human rights violations in Lebanon. Amnesty International is calling upon all sides involved in the perilous situation in Lebanon not to allow a further escalation of violence and accompanying human rights abuses.
East Mediterranean Team
Amnesty International, International Secretariat
Peter Benenson House, 1 Easton Street
London WC1X 0DW
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 7413 5500
Fax: +44 (0)20 7413 5719

U.N. Condemns 'Pernicious Attempt to Undermine Security
The U.N. Security Council on Tuesday strongly condemned the bus bombings that killed three people on the eve of the second anniversary of ex-premier Rafik Hariri's assassination. The 15-member council approved a non-binding statement that "condemns in the strongest terms" the bomb attacks as "a new pernicious attempt to undermine security and all the efforts aimed at preserving stability" in Lebanon. The bombings in the town of Ain Alaq northeast of Beirut came on the eve of the second anniversary of the Beirut bomb attack that killed Hariri and 22 others. The council reiterated "its unequivocal condemnation of any attempt to destabilize Lebanon" and recalled "its determination to continue to assist the government of Lebanon" in identifying and prosecuting those responsible for the latest bombings as well as "other terrorist attacks and assassinations committed in Lebanon since October 2004." "There must be no impunity for such heinous acts," said the council, which also urged all parties in Lebanon and in the region "to show restraint and a sense of responsibility with a view to preventing any further deterioration of the situation." Council members also appealed to all Lebanese parties to "continue the political dialogue with a view to finding agreed solutions to outstanding issues." U.N. chief Ban Ki-moon earlier also slammed Tuesday's bus bombings. "The United Nations strongly rejects attempts to secure political objectives through violence and the killing of innocent civilians," Ban said in a statement released by his spokeswoman, Michele Montas. Ban stressed that "there must be an end to impunity" and appealed to all Lebanese "to maintain national unity in the face of such attempts to undermine the country's stability."(AFP-Naharnet) (AP photo shows an injured Lebanese woman sitting inside one of the bombed buses, waiting to get help from medics) Beirut, 14 Feb 07, 07:53

Bombs Kill 3 in Lebanon on Day Before Memorial
Bela Szandelsky/Associated Press
Soldiers examined the damage yesterday after bombs tore through two buses in Ain Alaq, northeast of Beirut on a busy commuter highway.
Published: February 14, 2007
BEIRUT, Lebanon, Feb. 13 — A day before Lebanon prepared to mark the second anniversary of the assassination of its former prime minister, Rafik Hariri, three people were killed and about 23 others wounded when two minibuses were bombed as they ferried passengers to work, to shopping and to Bible study classes.
In a country so fragile and on edge because of its internal political struggles, the bombers managed to heighten tensions, but not by attacking government ministers or the politically outspoken. Instead the targets were passengers who paid about 80 cents to pile into a minibus for the half-hour ride to Beirut.
It was the first such attack — directed at ordinary civilians, not public figures — since the end of Lebanon’s 15-year civil war in 1990. It caught people like Nidal Ashkar, 45, who was on her way to Bible study. She lost a leg. And Leila Gemayel, 39, who was going shopping with a friend. The friend was killed, and Mrs. Gemayel suffered serious burns on both legs.
The names may be meaningful only to the friends and relatives who crowded into the halls and waiting areas of the tiny Serhal Hospital along a beautiful mountain road just north of Beirut. But that — apparently — was the point.
“The message is clear,” said Jihad Nasr, at the hospital bedside of Mrs. Gemayel, his sister-in-law. “There was no politics between these people. These are normal people. Employees. They don’t even have cars.”
The message, the victims and their visitors said, was to spread fear beyond the rich and powerful into everyday homes.
It worked. “How am I ever going to ride a bus again?” said Rata Kuosoumati, 48, a maid who was in the first bus when the bomb went off but was not badly hurt.
Officials said bombs had been planted inside the buses, which are more like oversized minivans, as they made their morning runs. Every 10 minutes in the early morning, these privately owned buses take people between the Metn district, a primarily Christian area in the mountains, and Beirut.
In the hospital, friends and relatives said they took the attack as an act of intimidation, aimed at making people afraid to attend the Hariri memorial planned for Wednesday.
In Lebanon public memorials are never just about grieving; they are also political statements, so the anniversary was to be a chance for the pro-government forces — locked in a political battle with the Iranian- and Syrian-backed opposition, led by Hezbollah — to rally their allies.
And then came the randomness of the attack.
“It means, ‘Don’t come to the demonstration tomorrow,’ ” said Timur Guksel, former spokesman for the United Nations forces in Lebanon. “It has no meaning except to tell people, ‘Don’t come tomorrow.’ ”
Leaders of the governing coalition said that despite the attack, they planned to go forward with the memorial for Mr. Hariri.
The first minibus carried about 24 passengers, mostly women, according to witnesses. As it rounded a turn, passing a vista of snowcapped mountains and hillside villages, a bomb in the back blew up. With blood, body parts, smoke and screams filling the road, a second bus slowed and then stopped. Some of the passengers got out to see the mess, and as the driver opened his door, that bus blew up too.
The first bus was a twisted wreck. The second nearly disintegrated, its roof, doors, walls and windows gone. A heavy rainfall tamped down the smoke and quickly washed the road clean of blood.
“Why are we dying in Lebanon?” said Tania Hayek, 43, who was a few feet away in a cliffside cafe called Chez George when the first bomb went off. “We want to live. We are normal people. We just want to live.”
Politics — local and global — have been making that increasingly difficult for the Lebanese. Locally there is a battle for power, fueled by foreign sponsors. On one side is the Shiite group Hezbollah and its alliance with Syria and Iran. The government and the March 14 coalition are on the other side with the United States, Sunni Arab leaders and Europe.
At least six attacks have occurred since Mr. Hariri died, killing or maiming officials or prominent journalists. But the attack on Tuesday came as Lebanon confronts its worst political crisis since the end of the civil war.
Hezbollah and its allies want the ability to veto all government actions and want the government to back off supporting the international tribunal being set up by the United Nations to hear evidence in the assassination. The government has refused both demands. The investigation has implicated top Syrian officials.
That is a rough outline of what politicians have been fighting over since the Hezbollah alliance began an open-ended protest in the center of Beirut in December.
Until Tuesday, that was not really part of Dr. Michel Saliba’s world, he said. Then his wife woke him to tell him the news. His brother, Shady, 25, was the driver of the second bus. Dr. Saliba, 40, bought the bus for his brother so he could support his wife and year-old son.
Dr. Saliba said he rushed to the hospital as other passengers arrived. “Butchered” was how he described them.
“I saw a woman who lost both legs, someone with no hands,” he said. Then he went into surgery to repair his own brother’s damaged skull. Later he sat outside his brother’s room for hours as investigators tried to get the brother to remember details of who might have planted the bomb in the bus.
But he did not remember much.
“Welcome to the new Iraq,” said Dr. Saliba. “I thought they would only bomb ministers and political people. We are not even part of a party. And still we are the target of this.”
Nada Bakri contributed reporting.
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Three dead as bombs hit buses near Beirut
Attack spurs fears of lethal new focus on private citizens
By Rym Ghazal  -Daily Star staff-Wednesday, February 14, 2007
AIN ALAQ: Two bombs ripped through two mini-buses packed with passengers on Tuesday, killing at least three people and wounding 23 others in the first direct attack on civilians in a country reeling from two years of political assassinations and one day ahead of the second anniversary of the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. Residents of the Christian village of Ain Alaq in the mountainous Metn region awoke to two bomb blasts and the sight of ruptured buses and staggering, blood-soaked passengers. "Oh my god, it was terrifying!" cried Kusumawathie Singhalge of Sri Lanka, who was one of 50 passengers on their way to work as their buses exploded. Singhalge was one of the lucky ones, sustaining a slight head wound and temporary loss of hearing.
"Blood everywhere and people screaming," she said as she sat huddled next to her sister inside a nearby pharmacy that saw an unexpected rush of wounded and shocked passengers seeking medical aid. But perhaps the most shocking aspect of Tuesday's attack was that it was the first bombing since the Hariri assassination that targeted average citizens instead of high-profile political figures. Many Lebanese were reminded of a shooting attack on a bus in 1975 that propelled the country into its 15-year Civil War. According to security sources, the two vehicles were en route from the village of Ain Alaq, near Bikfaya, to Beirut when the first bomb exploded at 8:51 a.m. inside a white bus carrying 26 passengers. Approximately 10 minutes later, a second bomb, attached to the undercarriage of a blue bus carrying 24 passengers, detonated. The second bus was parked a short distance from the first due to a traffic jam caused by the initial blast.
The bomb blasts left puddles of blood, shredded seats, torn clothes and abandoned bags, purses and shoes - all spilled over from the destroyed buses - on the street. Security officers and police dogs were seen at the bomb site shortly after the attack, searching for clues throughout the cordoned off scene.
Forensic investigators onsite said that the first bomb was "inside" the white bus, while the second bomb was put under the blue bus. Both explosives were estimated to have weighed around 1 kilogram.The two buses were estimated to have been about "six car lengths apart" at the time of the initial attack.
A security source told The Daily Star that the attack was "a well-coordinated bombing operation," as the second bomb detonated almost exactly 10 minutes after the first. The latest bombing triggered frightening memories of the series of bombings dating back two years that targeted Christian neighborhoods around the capital. But observers agreed that Tuesday's blasts were considerably different as they targeted civilians directly, while previous attacks had been carried out against general areas and/or detonated at odd hours that appeared aimed at instilling fear rather than loss of life.
Metn MP Michel Murr told The Daily Star that the latest attack was a "political message" to both the opposition and loyalist parties."The bombs are a warning to both camps that enough is enough," Murr said. "Both sides need to sit down together and agree on a solution," he added. "The opposition needs to get out of the street and the loyalists need to take responsibility for what is happening in the country; at that point we can reach an actual solution." Murr, a member of the opposition, said the only way out of the current crisis was internal dialogue."Every time there is a problem in this country, they bring in 10 countries to solve it instead of sitting down for 10 minutes at a table together to discuss a possible solution," he added.
Ain Alaq is near Bikfaya, the hometown of former President Amin Gemayel, whose son, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, was assassinated by gunmen in November.Judicial sources told The Daily Star that dozens of witnesses had said a "suspicious-looking" man had boarded the first bus carrying a large bag, but there were conflicting reports as to whether he got off before the blast.A passenger told The Daily Star that a man "carrying a big garbage bag" had boarded the bus but left the bag behind as he disembarked.A judicial source said that "most probably" the bombs had been set off by a timer rather than remote control. Earlier reports had said the bombs were detonated by remote."Nowhere is safe in Lebanon anymore," said Joe Khoury, owner of the Chez George restaurant located near the scene of the attack."There were people with a leg missing and others with bloody faces. It was just horrible," he said, echoing the horror of other witnesses. "They targeted poor and simple workers this time. What is next?"

Bus Explosions in Metn Claim Innocent Lives

Three people were killed and at least 18 others wounded when two explosions ripped through two minibuses traveling on a highway Tuesday in the Ain Alaq town in the northern Metn province, police and Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) sources said. The explosions come at a time tensions were running high with the Hizbullah-led Opposition holding an open-ended protest in downtown Beirut, and on the eve of the second anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. A mass rally had been planned for Wednesday in Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut to commemorate the 2005 anniversary of Hariri's slaying.
The 9:15 a.m. blasts occurred on a road in Ain Alaq, some 20 kilometers northeast of Beirut and just south of the town of Bikfaya, the ancestral home of the Gemayel family, a prominent political Christian family in Lebanon. Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel was assassinated last November.
Television footage showed at least one bus torn apart and ambulances carrying away people. Blood was pooled in several places near the bus wreckage.
State-run National News Agency (NNA) said earlier as many as 12 people were killed. But police sources and LRC officials said three people, including an Egyptian man , were killed and 18 others were wounded. Many other vehicles were also damaged in the twin blasts. A security official said the bombs, weighing two to three kilograms each, took place just minutes apart. The bomb exploded in the first bus, causing damage and casualties, and as people rushed to the scene, a second explosion ripped through a second bus that drove up behind it, the official said. Troops and police using sniffer dogs quickly sealed off the area and blocked the highway, a usually busy road linking Christian towns in the mountains with the capital. In the heavy rain, the buses lay some 30 meters apart, the first with its roof twisted and its backside shattered completely. Appeals for urgent blood donations were broadcast as ambulances rushed casualties to Serhal and Bhanness hospitals in the region. The Voice of Lebanon radio station said the targeted buses were driving people to their work. Lebanon has been rocked by a wave of killings and attacks against prominent anti-Syrian figures since the killing of Hariri in a massive bombing on February 14, 2005.(Naharnet-AP-AFP) Beirut, 13 Feb 07, 10:13

Lebanon Blasts Target Christians, Increase Instability

18:51 Feb 13, '07 / 25 Shevat 5767
by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
Three people were killed and dozens injured Tuesday morning in twin car-bomb attacks in a predominantly Christian area of Lebanon. Fears of another round of civil war abound. A bomb exploded aboard a mini-bus passing through Ayn Alak, northeast of Beirut, during the morning commute to work. Shortly afterward, a second bomb detonated on another mini-bus that pulled to a halt behind the first.
Red Cross officials said three people were killed in the bombings, but initial reports put the fatality figures in the double digits.
The attack came one day before a national gathering commemorating the 2005 assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. He, too, was killed in a massive car bomb attack carried out by unknown perpetrators. Several other politicians known for their anti-Syrian positions, and a journalist, have been assassinated since then. In November, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, son of former President Amin Gemayel, was shot to death in a Christian suburb of Beirut. The latest car bomb attacks took place near the hometown of the Gemayel family.
Lebanese leaders were quick to analyze the meaning of the attacks in the context of local and international pressures on the country. Prime Minister Fouad Siniora said that the bombings were aimed at destabilizing his country. Although a rival of Siniora, President Emile Lahoud said that what he called a "massacre" was "a clear attempt to foil all internal, regional and international efforts to achieve Lebanese national unity. Every time the Lebanese seem close to an agreement, enemies of Lebanon commit another crime."Speaking with the Voice of Lebanon radio station, Amin Gemayel claimed that "alien hands" were behind the explosions. "Lebanese do not kill Lebanese," he declared.  Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt told Al-Jazeera that the attacks were meant "to terrorize people who are willing to come to mark the second anniversary of Hariri's death." A member of the Lebanese parliament representing the Hizbullah, Hassan Fadlallah, said: "All the Lebanese feel that they are targets, and what happened was a harrowing crime that targeted civilians."
Nabil Nekoula, a parliamentarian representing the district where the bombings took place, said, "This is an act to undermine Lebanon, so that we might end up like Iraq, with strife and people leaving their country."International reactions were of horror and condemnation. French President Jacques Chirac wrote that he was "horrified and dismayed at the appalling attacks" in a letter to Prime Minister Siniora. The "murderers are trying to plunge the whole of Lebanon back into violence," Chirac wrote. British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett released a statement condemning the attack, saying it "was clearly targeted to create further tension at a highly sensitive time," just before the Hariri memorial and during ongoing political and civil strife.
Last month, nine people were killed in clashes between supporters and opponents of the Western-backed government of Fouad Siniora. The Hizbullah terror organization has been leading an ongoing protest against the government, seeking to obtain enough power in the cabinet to veto decisions not to its liking or that of its allies. A sign of things to come, or at least of Lebanese citizens' concerns, according to the YaLibnan news and views web site, is the skyrocketing cost of a Kalashnikov assault rifle in Lebanon today. Ever since Hizbullah opposition to the government took to the streets, YaLibnan reports, the prices of weapons and ammunition have jumped by hundreds of dollars, seven to ten times what they were worth previously. "People are afraid of Hizbullah arms and no longer seem to trust (Hizbullah) claims that it won't use the arms against the Lebanese people," according to the YaLibnan correspondent.

Bus bombs in Lebanon kill three on eve of political rally
Clancy Chassay in Ain Alaq
Wednesday February 14, 2007-The Guardian
Explosions tore through two buses in early morning traffic yesterday in the Lebanese mountain village of Ain Alaq, north of Beirut, killing at least three people and wounding 21 others.The two bombs, detonated within 10 minutes of each other, occurred on the eve of a pro-government rally planned for today to mark the assassination two years ago of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. The blast occurred less than a mile from the Christian village of Bikfaya, the hometown of the former president Amin Gemayel, whose son Pierre Gemayel, a one-time cabinet minister, was assassinated by gunmen in November.
No individual or group claimed responsibility for the attack yesterday. Under the steady rain, forensic workers picked through the wreckage of the first bus, its roof peeled back off its sagging frame, and its panels and pillars twisted outwards. Troops and police sealed off the area, about 15 miles north of Beirut.
"We heard a loud explosion and then there was total silence, then we heard the screaming," said Joseph Khouri, 23, who runs a sandwich shop less than 20 metres from the scene of the first explosion. "I went out to look and saw smoke and people running everywhere, and the road was blocked with heavy traffic." He described seeing body parts strewn across the scorched road and people staggering from the bus.
"I saw two people, their flesh was blackened, you could not tell if they were men or women. There was a third but that was just pieces of a body. I didn't have the courage to look any more. Then we heard the second blast, it was much louder."
Hearing the first blast, the driver of the second bus stepped out of his vehicle moments before it was blown up too.
At the Suhal hospital, Aline Mazloum, 21, waited nervously for her younger sister Hala to regain consciousness. Hala, who had severe facial cuts and head trauma, had been on one of the buses, going to her university, with her friend, Michel Attar, 17, when the bomb detonated under his seat. "He was her best friend from when they were children, and he came apart next to her," said Aline. The explosions occurred following reports saying a tentative solution had been reached between the government and the opposition, after more than nine weeks of tense brinkmanship, which has left seven people dead and more than 200 people wounded.
Government sources claimed that the attack was aimed at deterring people from travelling to today's rally, while opposition figures suggested that it might have been the work of fringe political groups whose popularity had increased during the recent standoff. Organisers of the rally said there were no plans to cancel the gathering.

Routine commute turns deadly as bombers target civilians
'I wasn't doing anything but trying to get to work'
By Iman Azzi -Daily Star staff-Wednesday, February 14, 2007
RABIEH: What started as a regular commute to work or school turned into a bloody nightmare on Tuesday when bombs tore through two buses in the village of Ain Alaq, near the village of Bikfaya northeast of Beirut. Michel Attar, 18, Lorrice Gemayel, 35, and Mahmoud Hammoud, an Egyptian national whose age was not disclosed, died the attacks. Some 23 other people were wounded in the blasts.
The Lebanese Red Cross received a report at 8:51 a.m. of the first explosion, which struck a minibus transporting 26 people. Ten minutes later, a second minibus, carrying 24 in the same vicinity, was targeted. The Red Cross deployed eight ambulances and 30 medics to the scene. Civil Defense and Lebanese police officers were also dispatched. "I heard an explosion. Then I opened the window and I saw a bus blowing up," an eyewitness named Samir told AFP. "It was horrible. I helped evacuate two people who lost their feet."The wounded were primarily taken to the nearby Serhal and Bhannes hospitals. Victims were also transported to Saydet Loubnan and Hotel Dieu hospitals, as were several witnesses with minor injuries.
Most of the wounded from the first bus were transported to Serhal Hospital in Rabieh, where relatives and friends gathered for support. A hospital administrator confirmed that nine of the wounded, including the driver of the first bus, received treatment at the hospital, where Attar was pronounced dead.
Leila Gemayel lay in a hospital bed, her jacket acting as a second blanket. "I was going to work on the first bus. My friend was sitting next to me but she's dead now," Gemayel said, referring to Lorrice Gemayel. "My leg, my chest, my left arm are all injured. I wasn't doing anything but trying to get to work."
Grieving family members crowded the hospital, where surgeons in green scrubs walked the soiled halls, their sneakers spotted with blood.
The mother of Michel Attar sat sobbing in the visitors' lounge, surrounded by her other children and relatives. Her cries could be heard throughout the first floor for over two hours.One of her sons smashed his phone against the linoleum floor when he heard the news. Others smoked quietly or called neighbors and friends to provide updates."I sat at the back of the bus on my way to university. There were over 20 people sitting with me," said Alain Khoury, 18. The skin on his face was shredded and bruised. "It was totally normal when I got on. I was on the bus for about 10 minutes and then the explosion happened. My friend was in the bus too but I don't know where he is."
Lebanon has witnessed a series of assassinations against prominent anti-Syrian figures since the explosion that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri two years ago, but until Tuesday none of the attacks had targeted civilians. The most recent victim was Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, shot in broad day light on November 21, 2006. The Gemayel family is from the Bikfaya area. Patricia and Nicole Gemayel, widow and sister of Pierre Gemayel, visited the wounded Tuesday afternoon at several area hospitals.Thirteen patients, most of whom were on the second bus and many of whom were seriously wounded, were taken to the Bhannes Hospital

Arab League chief condemns Lebanon bombings
CAIRO, Feb 13 (KUNA) -- Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa has condemned two bomb explosions in Lebanon Tuesday morning, leaving scores of people killed or injured.In a news release, circulated by the league office in Cairo, Moussa stressed the importance of safeguarding Lebanon's national unity and creating national reconciliation. However, he voiced hope that the Tuesday bomb explosions would not affect Arab efforts to resolve the Lebanese cul-de-sac.
The Arab League chief called on all Lebanese political forces to bear national responsibility by precluding confrontations that would undermine Lebanon's national unity. Two bombs have exploded minutes apart near the Lebanese capital, killing three people and wounding 20 others. The casualties were travelling on two buses near Bikfaya, a mainly Christian town in the hills north of Beirut. The bombings come at a time of acute political tension in Lebanon, and a day before the second anniversary of the killing of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

U.S. Embassy: Bus Bombings 'Barbaric' Attack

The U.S. embassy denounced as "barbaric" Tuesday's bus bombings which killed three people as they traveled on two buses in the northern Metn town of Ain Alaq. The embassy "condemns in the strongest terms the barbaric attack on innocent Lebanese citizens," said an embassy statement.
"Among the dead and injured were students on their way to university, government employees going to work, ordinary Lebanese trying to get on with the business of life," the statement said. "Fathers and brothers, aunts and sisters, mothers, children and loved ones of Lebanon, their lives have now been cut short or marked forever by this senseless act of terrorism," it added. The statement said the blasts, which came on the eve of the second anniversary of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri's assassination, "can only be seen as an attempt to silence and intimidate those Lebanese determined to realize their vision of a sovereign, independent and democratic Lebanon." "The United States stands firmly with the Lebanese people in repudiating such acts of terror and violence and decries this attempt to incite the Lebanese people," said the statement. It reiterated U.S. support for "the Government of Lebanon as it works to reaffirm Lebanon's sovereignty, engage in vital reforms and strengthen Lebanon's democratic institutions." Beirut, 13 Feb 07, 20:39

Vatican: Bus Explosions 'Anti-Christian'
Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone condemned as "anti-Christian" Tuesday's bomb attacks on two buses in Lebanon in which at least three people were killed. Cardinal Bertone described the double bombings in a mainly Christian mountain area northeast of Beirut as "a serious attack of an anti-Christian character". The cardinal, who occupies the number two position at the Vatican, called for prayers for Lebanon, the ANSA news agency reported.(AFP) Beirut, 13 Feb 07, 19:10

Britain: Bus Blasts Intended to 'Create Further Tension'

Britain's Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett condemned Tuesday's deadly bus bombings in Lebanon, saying they aimed at escalating tension at a politically sensitive time. The blasts, which killed three people, ripped through two buses as the deeply divided nation prepared to commemorate the second anniversary of ex-premier Rafik Hariri's assassination."I utterly condemn the bombing of two buses this morning near Bikfaya, Mount Lebanon, which, as well as apparently being timed to indiscriminately kill civilians on their way to work, was clearly targeted to create further tension at a highly sensitive time," Beckett said in a statement.
"I take this opportunity to reiterate Britain's support for all those in Lebanon working to promote national unity and making efforts to overcome the current political impasse through peaceful dialogue," she added.The bombings, in a mainly Christian area northeast of Beirut, were the latest in a spate of attacks that have been blamed on Lebanon's former powerbroker Syria.(AFP) Beirut, 13 Feb

German EU presidency condemns Lebanon bus attacks
Germany, which holds the European Union presidency, strongly condemned Tuesday's bombing of two buses in Lebanon and called on all in the country to help prevent the situation from escalating. Germany "calls upon all sides in Lebanon to take a determined stand against violence and to do everything they can to prevent the situation from escalating," an EU presidency statement said. "The political crisis in Lebanon can only be resolved through dialogue while ensuring that democratic processes are observed and the country's democratically legitimated institutions are respected," it added.

European Union Condemns Bus Blasts

The German presidency of the European Union called on leaders in Lebanon to avert a new spiral of violence in the country after bomb blasts killed at least three people in two buses Tuesday."The presidency of the European Union condemns in the strongest possible terms the targeted attacks on two buses in Lebanon which today claimed several lives and left many injured," it said in a statement. "On the eve of the second anniversary of the assassination of the former prime minister Rafik Hariri, the presidency of the European Union calls upon all sides in Lebanon to take a determined stand against violence and to do everything they can to prevent the situation from escalating." It said the political crisis in the deeply divided country could only be resolved through dialogue and respect for the country's democratic institutions. The bombings in a mainly Christian mountain area northeast of Beirut were the latest in a spate of attacks blamed on Lebanon's former powerbroker Syria. They are expected to exacerbate tensions in a country where the Syrian- and Iranian-backed Shiite Muslim Hizbullah movement is spearheading a campaign to bring down the Western-backed government.(AFP) Beirut, 13 Feb 07, 19:16

Hariri: 'Terrorist' Bus Blasts Aimed at Disrupting Wednesday's Ceremonies

Parliament's majority leader Saad Hariri described Tuesday's twin bus bombings that left three people killed in the northern Metn town of Ain Alaq as a "cowardly terrorist attack" designed to disrupt ceremonies to commemorate his father's 2005 assassination.
He said the attacks underscored the need for an international tribunal to try those suspected in the killing of former premier Rafik Hariri.
Druze leader Walid Jumblat also said the explosions were meant to scare people away from Wednesday's rally.
"It's to terrorize people who are willing to come to mark the second anniversary" of Hariri's death, he told Al Jazeera TV.
Nayla Moawad, a member of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority, said: "This is another terrorist attempt to exert control over Lebanon with blood and repression." Three people were killed and at least 20 others wounded when two explosions ripped through two minibuses traveling on a highway in Ain Alaq, police and Lebanese Red Cross sources said. The blasts come on the eve of ceremonies to mark the second anniversary of the killing of five-time premier Hariri, the subject of a U.N. probe that has pointed the finger of blame at Syria. Syria, which has vehemently denied being involved in any of the attacks against its critics, has so far not responded to Tuesday's events. Hariri's assassination in a massive bombing on February 14, 2005, was followed by a series of killings and attacks against other prominent anti-Syrian politicians and journalists. His killing triggered massive international pressure on Syria, which in April 2005 pulled its troops out of Lebanon after a 29-year military presence. President Emile Lahoud said the "massacre... is a clear attempt to foil all internal, regional and international efforts to achieve Lebanese national unity." "Every time the Lebanese seem close to an agreement, enemies of Lebanon commit another crime," Lahoud added.
Hizbullah MP Hassan Fadlallah said: "All the Lebanese feel that they are targets, and what happened was a harrowing crime that targeted civilians."
Former President Amin Gemayel, and father of slain Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, told the Voice of Lebanon radio station that "alien hands" were behind the explosion. "Lebanese do not kill Lebanese."(Naharnet-AP-AFP) Beirut, 13 Feb 07, 14:17

France 'Horrified' by Bus Bombings
French President Jacques Chirac on Tuesday voiced horror over the twin bus bombings that killed three people in Ain Alaq in the northern Metn province.
"I am horrified and dismayed at the appalling attacks that took place this morning in Bikfaya. I condemn them in the clearest terms," Chirac wrote in a letter to Prime Minister Fouad Saniora. "By striking on the eve of the commemoration of the attack that claimed the lives of Rafik Hariri and his companions, these murderers are trying to plunge the whole of Lebanon back into violence."Bomb blasts tore through two minibuses in the town of Ain Alaq just south of Bikfaya, killing three people Tuesday morning a day before the deeply divided nation prepared to commemorate Hariri's murder two years ago.
According to the French presidency, Chirac also spoke with Maronite Patriarch Nasrallah Sfeir to express his condolences.
French Foreign Minister Philippe Douste-Blazy warned that those responsible of the "hateful and cowardly attack," "and of those of the past two years" will be brought to justice. "Faced with this new attempt to destabilize Lebanon, it is essential that the Lebanese people stick together to avoid falling into the trap that has been laid for them," he said in a statement. He stressed France's solidarity with efforts to "preserve the stability, unity and sovereignty of Lebanon."
Britain too condemned the deadly bus bombings, saying they were targeted to heighten tension at a politically sensitive time. "I utterly condemn the bombing of two buses this morning near Bikfaya, Mount Lebanon, which, as well as apparently being timed to indiscriminately kill civilians on their way to work, was clearly targeted to create further tension at a highly sensitive time," Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett said in a statement. And she added: "I take this opportunity to reiterate Britain's support for all those in Lebanon working to promote national unity and making efforts to overcome the current political impasse through peaceful dialogue."(AFP-Naharnet) Beirut, 13 Feb 07, 13:12

Minister MacKay Issues Statement Marking the Anniversary of the Assassination of Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri
February 13, 2007
No. 23
The Honourable Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency, today issued the following statement to mark the second anniversary of the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14, 2005:
“Rafik Hariri was a strong and inspired leader who was committed to Lebanon’s independence and full sovereignty. He died at the hands of those who do not believe in a free, democratic, pluralistic and modern Lebanon. Two years after his tragic murder, he is deeply missed. We reiterate our call to bring those responsible to justice.
“We urge all of the communities in Lebanon, in a spirit of compromise and respect for their legitimate democratic institutions, to build consensus through dialogue in order to resolve their political differences. Canada reiterates its support for the United Nations resolutions aimed at strengthening Lebanon’s democratic development and guaranteeing its security and sovereignty. Canada fully supports the leadership of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora at this important time.
“The attacks on innocent civilians today in Lebanon demonstrate once again the need for dialogue. Canada condemns this cowardly act of terror. We call for calm and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice. We extend our sincere sympathies to the families of the victims.”
Foreign Affairs Media Relations Office
Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada

March 14 Calls for Sanctions on Syrian Regime

Premier Fouad Saniora said the bus blasts that killed three people and wounded 18 on Tuesday "wouldn't terrorize us" and the March 14 majority coalition blamed the crime on the Syrian regime, calling for sanctions on Damascus. Saniora, in an address to the Lebanese on the eve of the second anniversary of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's assassination, said the bomb blasts in commuting buses northeast of Beirut were "criminal acts of violence.""We will not be terrorized and we will not be scared off. We will chase the criminals," he pledged. Saniora said "we will not give up our commitment to serve justice" in the 2005 Hariri assassination and related crimes. Addressing families of the three people who were killed in the bus blasts in Ain Alaq earlier in the day, Saniora said: "Their rights will not be lost irrespective of the cost.""We will not succumb … we are not a sphere of influence for anyone…The Lebanese will not compromise on their freedoms, security and safety… and the nature of their regime," he added. In a related development, the majority March 14 coalition which backs the Saniora government said in a statement the bus blasts are "a new massacre … targeting innocent civilians." "We hold the Syrian regime fully responsible for this crime and we charge this regime of attempting to change Lebanon into another Iraq to destroy its security and stability in order to torpedo efforts aimed at setting up an international tribunal" that should try suspects in the Hariri assassination and related crimes.
The alliance, in a statement after an emergency meeting, urged the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council and the international community to "shoulder your responsibilities in lifting the Syrian regime's aggression off Lebanon."
The statement called for imposing sanctions on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime and for dispatching U.N. peacekeepers to "control the Lebanese-Syrian borders that would halt the flow of weapons to tools of this (Syrian) regime."It also urged major factions in the opposition, in reference to Hizbullah and Amal, to "shoulder your responsibility in confronting efforts by the Syrian regime to change Lebanon into another Iraq by immediately approving the creation of the international tribunal and returning to the dialogue table."The alliance also called on its supporters to take part in the popular ceremony scheduled for Wednesday to commemorate the second anniversary of the Hariri assassination in Beirut's Martyrs' Square.Beirut, 13 Feb 07, 20:51

Nasrallah Supports Revealing Truth in Hariri Murder
Hizbullah Leader Sayed Hassan Nasrallah wrote in an article to be published Wednesday that revealing the truth in the assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri has become a "unifying national demand."Excerpts of the article to be published by as-Safir newspaper were released by the state-run National News Agency.
"The worst (act) that can be committed by some of us is to follow a path that would cover up the facts and identities of the criminals," Nasrallah wrote.
Addressing Hariri on the second anniversary of his assassination, Nasrallah said he regretfully had to be absent from the ceremony to be organized at Beirut's Martyrs' square "because our sole guilt is that we had refused to make charges lacking evidence."Hizbullah leads an open-ended protest since Dec. 1 to topple the Majority government of Premier Fouad Saniora, a close associate of the late Hariri. Beirut, 13 Feb 07, 19:49

Russia condemns commuter bus blasts in Lebanon

14.02.2007, 00.15
MOSCOW, February 13 (Itar-Tass) - Russia strongly condemned on Tuesday “a dangerous terrorist sortie in Lebanon, which took place after a series of political murders in that country,” Russian Foreign Ministry sources said.
Blasts in two commuter buses outside the Lebanese capital on Tuesday have killed at least three people and wounded 29, according to the Lebanese authorities.
Russia “has repeatedly voiced its firm fundamental attitude to such criminal acts, whose masterminds must be found and be justly punished,” the sources emphasized.
The situation in Lebanon over the past few months “has been characterized by bitter confrontation of two camps, into which the society was split,” they added.
Obviously, the organizers of Tuesday terrorist acts “are trying to destabilize the situation even more with an aim to disrupt efforts towards normalization and deepen internal feud and confrontation”.
Moscow expects “that all without exception political forces in Lebanon will remain unprovoked and will maintain restraint and composure,” they said. “Now, as never before, it is important to see the resumption of a dialogue inside Lebanon, which is aimed at the settlement of existing contradictions within the framework of the constitution and restoration of national accord,” the ministry sources emphasized.

Lebanon hit by another terrorist attack
UALM: We denounce all attempts to destabilise Lebanon.
For Immediate Release
Sydney, Australia – The United Australian Lebanese Movement (UALM) unequivocally condemns the latest terrorist attack to hit Lebanon in which several people were killed and 20 wounded in two bomb blasts that wrecked minibuses near the town of Ain Alaq, north of Beirut.
The UALM wishes to express its condolences to the families and loved ones of those who died in the bombings and to all the Lebanese people. Our thoughts and prayers are with them at this time and we hope that these atrocities cease in order for the Lebanese to live in peace and harmony.
The UALM demands that a full investigation be conducted immediately and those responsible for this latest attack found and brought to justice. The Lebanese Government must find and bring to justice all those who committed the series of assassinations and assassination attempts that have hit Lebanon. It is unacceptable for crimes to be committed and the perpetrators are never brought to justice.
The UALM also calls on the Lebanese Government do more to protect lives and property from those who seek to destabilise Lebanon. We also deplore any attempt to exploit the deaths of innocent civilians for political gains. We call upon all Lebanese leaders to assume their responsibilities and help create a suitable environment for dialogue.
The UALM affirms its solidarity with the people of Lebanon at this crucial time. The UALM stands with the people of Lebanon in their quest for a truly sovereign and independent Lebanon.
Media contact: CharlieKhouri P :( 02) 9687 0518
F: (02) 9687 0975 M: 0411 868 222
A: P O Box 3157 Parramatta NSW 2124