29 September 2008

* (#11) Tripoli Buhsas Blast!

Brief:
Explosion in a bus carrying Lebanese army troops in Tripoli/Buhsas on Monday.
6 killed and 30 injured. Explosion occured at 7:45am in Buhsas, same timing as the recent Tripoli explosion.
The bomb was reportedly placed in a Renault18 car plate #501516,that was remotely detonated.
Details:
A car bomb exploded Monday near a military bus carrying troops on their way to work in northern Lebanon, killing at least five people and wounding 25, Lebanese security officials said.
The officials said most of the casualties were soldiers. It was the second deadly attack targeting troops in northern Lebanon in less than two months.
A senior military official told The Associated Press that three soldiers were among the dead, but had no breakdown of the number of injured among the troops.
The security officials said the car packed with explosives was parked on the side of the road and was detonated by remote control as the bus drove in the Bahsas neighborhood on the southern entrance to the northern port city of Tripoli.
They said the explosives used were mixed with metal balls to maximize casualties.
The blast, which tossed the car about a dozen meters, occurred during the morning rush hour, according to the officials who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.
Television footage showed soldiers sealing off the area and preventing people from approaching the blast scene. The explosion shattered windows of cars parked in the area. Police forensic experts in plainclothes searched for evidence in the bus wreckage. Pieces of flesh were strewn on the road.
Tripoli has been rocked by sectarian fighting between pro-government Sunni fighters and pro-Syrian gunmen of the Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam, that killed or wounded dozens in the summer before a truce was reached.
On Aug. 13, a total of 18 soldiers and civilians were killed by a roadside bomb packed with nuts and bolts near a bus carrying troops on a busy Tripoli street. It was Lebanon's deadliest bombing in more than three years.
Monday's explosion came two days after a massive bombing in the capital of neighboring Syria killed 17 people and wounded 14. Syrian authorities on Monday said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber and that the vehicle came from a neighboring Arab country.
It did not identify the country. Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan border Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad has recently warned of extremists operating in northern Lebanon and beefed up his border troops along that frontier in recent days.
No group has claimed responsibility for Syria's explosion, the August bombing in Tripoli, or Monday's attack.
Tripoli, about 50 miles north of Beirut on the Mediterranean coast, is a majority Sunni city and is Lebanon's second-largest. The region there is known to be a strong base for Sunni militants.
In 2007, Lebanese troops fought Sunni militants of Fatah Islam group in a nearby Palestinian refugee camp. The three-month battle that left hundreds dead before the army crushed the militants.
Fatah Islam group claimed responsibility for a bomb blast that killed a soldier in Abdeh, near Tripoli, on May 31.
Sheik Daie al-Islam al-Shahal, founder of the fundamentalist Salafi Sunni movement in northern Lebanon, said Monday's attack was part of the conflict among "external forces" in Lebanon, rejecting suggestions that Sunni terrorists were behind it.
"The false allegations and haste do not help stability and cause tensions," said al-Shahal, Lebanon's most powerful Salafist leader.
 

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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.