TRIPOLI: A wave of attacks motivated by sectarianism in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli has wounded 19 members of the minority Alawite sect this week, a security official said yesterday.
Nine Alawite workers were wounded yesterday when gunmen shot and beat them.
The bus they had been travelling in stopped to let two Sunni passengers off at the entrance to the Bab Al Tebbaneh area, where the gunmen were waiting.
“All nine Alawites had either gunshot or beating wounds and were taken to hospital for treatment,” the security official said.
“The bus they were on stopped at the entry of Bab Al Tebbaneh. That’s when the gunmen attacked,” the official added.
A doctor who treated the men said none had been injured critically.
Three more Alawites suffered knife wounds yesterday after they were attacked by unknown men in Tripoli’s central Tal Square.
Another Alawite man, who works for the city municipality, was also attacked by a knife-wielding assailant in a separate incident.
Tripoli is Lebanon’s second city and is the scene of frequent Syria-linked battles, that pit Sunnis from Bab Al Tebbaneh against Alawites in Jabal Mohsen.
Most Sunnis support Syria’s revolt against President Bashar Al Assad, while Alawites, who belong to the same Shia-offshoot sect as Assad, support his regime.
The latest fighting ended when the army deployed along Syria Street, which separates the two districts and acts as the makeshift frontline.
Tripoli’s population is 80 percent Sunni and 11 percent Alawite.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a barber from Jabal Mohsen who works in central Tripoli said he is afraid of going to work.
“Ever since the latest battle ended, I’ve received threats by phone. I’m scared of going to (central) Tripoli. I’m thinking of closing my shop down,” he said.
Many of Tripoli’s residents long for peace, as every fresh outbreak of violence forces schools and universities to close.
“I condemn these attacks (against Alawites),” said 35-year-old Sunni resident, Khaled Al Rafei.
“What happened today is bad and the state must detain whoever was behind the attacks, whatever their political or sectarian affiliations.”
Lebanon was dominated by Damascus for 30 years until 2005, and its population is deeply divided into pro- and anti-Assad camps.