25 August 2008

* Koura psychiatrist shoots woman and her family, then himself

A psychiatrist committed suicide Wednesday morning after shooting dead a father and his two daughters.
Jack Hreiki, a 42-year-old psychiatrist, shot a 26-year-old lawyer, Chantal Ghanem; her sister Cheryl, a 29-year-old accountant; and their father Ghassan, a 58-year-old engineer; in the town of Batroumin in the northern province of Koura.
The victims were on their way to work in Tripoli when they were shot with a pump-action shotgun.
Hreiki, whose fellow townsmen described as a "psychiatrist in need of a psychological assistance," then went home and committed suicide.
A security source told The Daily Star that Hreiki knew his victims, as he was in love with Chantal, who had rejected him, for three years.
The source said Hreiki waited for the Ghanem family to leave for work, and when he blocked their path carrying a shotgun, the father stepped out from the car in an attempt to dissuade him from shooting. Ghassan was targeted first. 
Hreiki then shot and killed the man's two daughters, who had witnessed the first shooting from the car.
Hreiki had repeatedly threatened Chantal, the sources said, and the Ghanem family had alerted the Internal Security Forces.
The homicide is the third this month, after a double murder was reported in Jal al-Dib, a town just north of Beirut. Samir al-Ashqar discovered his wife, Janet Shukrallah Hajal, and his son, Roy, stabbed to death in their apartment.
Media reports quoted the neighbors as saying the wife had left a suicide note in which she confessed to killing her schizophrenic son before taking her own life. -  
(The Daily Star)

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.