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1 soldier killed, 2 wounded in east Lebanon clash with fugitives

THE LEVANT NEWS — BEIRUT: One soldier was killed and two others wounded in an armed clash with fugitives in northeast Lebanon Monday, a security source told The Daily Star.

The source said a number of fugitives were also wounded in the exchange of fire, which erupted after the Lebanese Army began carrying out raids in Dar al-Wasaa, near Baalbek, in search of wanted members from the Jaafar clan.

Later in the day, eight of the gunmen involved in the clashes handed themselves over to the army after soldiers encircled a house where they were hiding in, according to the state-run National News Agency.

The eight, according to NNA, were identified as: Abbas Mahmoud Jaafar, Ali Mohammad Salim Jaafar, Sobhi Ahmad Jaafar, Mohammad Salim Jaafar, Noor al-Din Jaafar, Ali Yaseen Jaafar, Rashed Salim Jaafar and Ali Khaled Jaafar.

The soldier killed was identified as Ali Qassem al-Zein and the two wounded are Ali Shames and Hussein Msheik.

The NNA said the fugitives were wanted in connection to the killing of a married couple in the Baalbek town of Btedaii last year.

The Fakhri couple was shot dead after refusing to give men on the run their vehicle to escape army arrest.

The NNA said army commandos backed by helicopter gunships and armed-personal carriers were sent in as reinforcements.

Violence also erupted in nearby Hay al-Sharawneh, a Baalbek neighborhood, after news spread that the army was raiding locations in Dar al-Wasaa.

The army also sealed off roads leading to and from the area, preventing anyone from entering and exiting.

Members of the Jaafar family used burning tires to cut off roads in Hay al-Sharawneh, mainly inhabited by the notorious clan, in protest over the raids in Dar al-Wasaa. The NNA reported they erected mobile checkpoints, beating and robbing passersby as well as shooting towards their vehicles in a sign of defiance.

The NNA reported a Syrian refugee woman was hit in the face with a stray bullet. The army however managed to reopen the road after a couple of hours.

The northern Bekaa region, especially places such as Hay al-Sharawneh, are well known for being safe havens for fugitives.

SOURCE: The Daily Star

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