France on Thursday condemned the assassination attempt against Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea and called for apprehending the perpetrators.
“This cowardly act, committed against one of the main Lebanese politicians is a clear attempt to destabilize the country,” a statement issued by the French Foreign Ministry said.
The U.S. envoy to Lebanon met with Lebanese president Michel Suleiman at the Baabda palace to condemn the assassination attempt against the Lebanese Forces leader.
“Ambassador Connelly conveyed to President Suleiman the deep concern of the United States at the reports of an assassination attempt on a leading Lebanese political figure,” a statement released by the embassy said.
The statement added “that Lebanon’s embrace of and support for the Special Tribunal for Lebanon demonstrates it has definitively rejected such practices.”
The Baabda palace also issued a statement in which it said that Connelly and Suleiman also discussed bilateral relations and U.S. aid to Lebanon particularly military aid for the Lebanese army, according to Suleiman’s press office.
United Nations Special Coordinator for Lebanon Derek Plumbly met with Interior Minister Marwan Charbel and expressed concern about the reported assassination attempt, praising the work of the country’s security forces in protecting Lebanon and ensuring public safety amid regional turmoil.
“With Minister Charbel, I discussed security issues. I expressed my concern about the reported attempt yesterday on Mr. Geagea, the leader of the Lebanese Forces party. Thankfully, nobody was injured,” Plumbly told reporters following his meeting with Charbel.
“But the incident underlines the need for vigilance. It is important that the investigation now [take] its course and that all sides in Lebanon continue to exert every effort to ensure that the situation remains secure and stable,” he added.
Geagea revealed on Wednesday during a news conference the assassination attempt on his life .Shots were fired at his residence, raising fears of a possible resumption of the series of assassinations that began in late 2004 and lasted several years before tapering off.
The LF leader said the incident, which took place before noon, indicated the perpetrators’ expertise, claiming the shots had been fired at least one kilometer from the target site.
An Nahar reported that based on initial investigations the shots were fired from a distance of about 1.5 kms ( about 0.90 miles) from the LF HQ in Meerab. The newspaper also reported that the initial investigation indicated that the weapon used by the snipers is “very sophisticated” and “virtually unavailable in Lebanon”. It concluded attackers used the “Steyr HS.50, with the 12.7mm caliber”, a sniper rifle manufactured in Austria but mainly sold to Iran.
Vienna was criticized in 2006 by London and Washington for having sold over 800 of these rifles to Tehran, according to The Telegraph . The British newspaper said that U.S. forces had found 100 of these Austrian assault rifles in a weapons cache belonging to Iraqi insurgents in Baghdad. These weapons were part of the cargo sent by Austria to Iran, reported the newspaper, quoting U.S. security sources.
Lebanese Minister of Interior Marwan Charbel said Thursday that the attempted assassination of Geagea, was “serious”. The minister said it was a “miracle” that Mr. Geagea has escaped the assassination
Speaking on LBC television channel, Charbel said that the political situation in Lebanon was unstable, hence the need to resolve internal “political” conflicts. “The solution lies not in the assassination attempts,” he stressed, warning against internal conflict and a return to civil war.
Calling on the Lebanese to “learn” from the attempted assassination of Geagea, the politician stressed the need to resort to dialogue.