Three Dead in Ambush on Shi'ite Mourners South of Beirut, Hezbollah Says

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People stand in a street after an ambush on Shi'ite mourners in Khaldeh, Lebanon, on Sunday.
People stand in a street after an ambush on Shi'ite mourners in Khaldeh, Lebanon, on Sunday.Credit: ISSAM ABDALLAH/ REUTERS

At least three people were killed on Sunday in an ambush on Shi'ite mourners in a town south of Beirut, a day after a revenge killing of a member of Lebanon's Hezbollah group, security sources and a senior source in the group said.

The three were shot in the town of Khaldeh, where sectarian tensions have long flared between the town's mixed Shi'ite and Sunni residents. Several others were taken to hospital in civilian cars, witnesses said.

Footage of a video broadcast on Hezbollah's Manar TV channel showed a volley of gunfire being fired on the convoy of mourners arriving at the home of the slain member of Shi'ite group Hezbollah.

Politicians voiced concern over the incident as it continued to unfold, reflecting a country on edge amid fears it could escalate and compound an array of crises in Lebanon amid a political vacuum.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah, Lebanon's most powerful armed group, in a statement urged the authorities to pursue the culprits saying the incident reflected lawlessness and bigotry.

Sunni Arab tribes who reside in the town said in a statement after the slaying of Hezbollah member Ali Shibli on Saturday, during a wedding, that they had taken revenge for the death of one of their relatives during earlier sectarian clashes in the same area.

A grouping of Arab Sunni tribes in Lebanon also issued a statement after the ambush saying they did not want to be drawn into an armed confrontation but blamed Hezbollah for the troubles and accused it of stirring sectarian tensions.

Prime Minister designate Najib Mekati called on the head of the army to beef up its security presence in the town, which lies on a coastal highway leading to the south of the country.

Local television networks showed footage of armed youths rampaging in the area.

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