The Beirut eastern suburb of Nabaa, the coastal Khalde area south of Beirut and the Bekaa town of Saadnayel have witnessed tensions following separate incidents over the past hours.
The tensions in Nabaa erupted after the torching of a banner related to the Shiite religious occasion of Ashoura and a picture of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea, reports said.
Geagea’s picture was torn up and torched on Tuesday evening while the Ashoura banner was burned on Wednesday evening.
The reports said Hizbullah contacted the LF to inform it that it was not responsible for the incident. The State Security agency also told the LF that a “fifth column” had sought to spark tensions between the two parties.
On Wednesday, the Lebanese Forces filed a complaint against unknown individuals with the Bourj Hammoud police station, as LF supporters replaced Geagea’s torched picture with a new one.
Contacts between the leaderships of Hizbullah and the LF were also conducted following the banner incident, contributing to pacification efforts, as agents from State Security and the army’s Intelligence Directorate deployed in the area to foil any escalation and contain possible repercussions.
Elsewhere, tensions surged between supporters of Hizbullah and al-Mustaqbal Movement in Khalde on Thursday afternoon amid conflicting reports about what sparked the standoff.
One report says a clash erupted over an “attempt to hoist Ashoura flags” while another says it broke out over an attempt to place a picture of Salim Ayyash, a Hizbullah member convicted Wednesday by the Special Tribunal for Lebanon of involvement in the 2005 assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri.
The army immediately intervened and managed to contain the situation amid tensions in internal neighborhoods.
In Saadnayel, residents blocked the international road in both directions facing the town’s mosque after gunshots were fired at it overnight, the National News Agency said.
Saadnayel’s mayor meanwhile held a press conference in which he announced the reopening of the road, noting that “gunfire targeted the town’s two mosques and one of its neighborhoods as a hand grenade was hurled into the al-Bhais area, blowing up a power transformer.”
Blaming “gangs,” he said gunmen opened fire from “a car raising a flag.”
“We call on the state and the security and military agencies to shoulder their responsibilities towards these actions and we will no longer tolerate any harm against Saadnayel’s dignity,” the mayor added.
“We have received phone calls of condemnation and they told us that some were seeking strife, mentioning some names,” the mayor went on to say.
MP Anwar Jomaa of Hizbullah meanwhile condemned the incident in the name of his party, saying no one should be allowed to “exploit any personal dispute to destroy our societal fabric in the region.”
“Our people in central Bekaa, specifically in the dear town of Saadnayel, are facing premeditated harm aimed at pouring oil on fire and aggravating divisions following an ordeal during which the Lebanese showed a high level of awareness,” Jomaa added.