Tensions rose in Beirut late Sunday evening following attacks against Sunni Sheikhs in Shiite neighborhoods, sparking anger as protesters blocked roads and armed men appeared on the streets of Beirut’s Tariq al-Jedideh neighborhood.
Two Sheikhs from Dar al Fatwa, identified as Mazen Hariri and Ahmad Fakhran, were beaten in the central Beirut neighborhood of Khandaq al-Ghamik while walking from Downtown Beirut’s Mohammad al-Amin Mosque, the National News Agency reported.
Meanwhile, another sheikh, identified as Omar Imami, was also assaulted in the South Beirut suburb of Shiyyah, Lebanon’s state agency added.
Following the incident, protesters in Sunni areas of Lebanon’s capital began blocking roads, as tension rose in the city.
Sunni Sheikh Ahmad al-Assir checked up on two of the wounded Sheikhs in the Makassed Hospital in Beirut’s Tariq al-Jedideh neighborhood, as hundreds of young men with Islamist flags gathered outside the building to protest against the attack.
Assir appealed for calm and called on his followers to open the roads to allow the army and security forces to do their jobs
As the night wore on, the Lebanese army deployed on the western side of the Kola roundabout across from Tariq al-Jedideh, the eyewitness added.
Local media outlets reported that roads were also blocked in Beirut’s Tayouneh neighborhood as well as in Sidon.
Amid the growing tension, the Lebanese army announced in a statement that it had raided the homes of men suspected in the attacks and arrested five of them.
Lebanon’s top Sunni cleric, Grand Mufti Mohammad Rashid Qabbani, called for “self-restraint” following the incident.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Premier Najib Miqati wrote late Sunday night on his Twitter account, “May God protect Lebanon from these [agitations] and aggressors from any party will be held accountable.”
Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel also visited the Makassed Hospital in Tariq al-Jedideh, saying afterward that he had spoken with Speaker Nabih Berri—the leader of the Shiite Amal Movement—who stressed security forces need to take action against the perpetrators of the Sheikhs’ assaults, MTV reported.
Hezbollah and the Amal Movement condemned the attack on the Sheikhs in Khandaq al-Ghamik, saying the incident aimed to incite strife.
Charbel described the suspects that attacked the clerics as drug addicts stressed that all Lebanese leaders have condemned the incident and the suspects will not have a political cover.