Shooting wounds two followers of Lebanese Druze leader

Other News Materials 11 February 2008 02:02 (UTC +04:00)

( dpa ) - Two followers of Lebanon's Druze leader Walid Jumbaltt were wounded Sunday night in a shooting in the mountainous resort of Aley, south-east of Beirut, security sources said.

Jumblatt's followers were passing in a convoy carrying the flag of his Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) when they came under fire from followers of rival Druze leader Talal Arslan.

The security sources said that one passerby and another girl who was riding in the convoy were wounded.

The incident led the Lebanese Army to intervene to contain the confrontation.

The incident came moments after occupants of a car shot at soldiers manning the entrance of the residence of Shiite House Speaker Nabih Berri, who is also a close ally of Hezbollah, in An Tineh in West Beirut, the sources said. A statement by Berri's office said there were no casualties in the incident.

Earlier Sunday, Jumblatt warned the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah that the anti-Syrian March 14 majority coalition was ready to go to war if the Iranian- and Syrian-backed group was behind the country's political crisis.

"If the others (the opposition) want war, then March 14 is ready. And if they want peace, March 14 is also ready," Jumblatt said at a press conference.

"War does not scare us. We have no problem with war or rockets," Jumblat said referring to Hezbollah's possession of thousands of missiles.

Hezbollah chief Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah said that his group had increased its stock of rockets since the 2006 summer war with Israel, despite attempts to halt arms smuggling into southern Lebanon.

In October, Nasrallah claimed that Hezbollah had 33,000 rockets.

"We will seize the rockets from you because we don't fear martyrdom," Jumblatt said. "We cannot let the ruler of Hezbollah (Nasrallah) take the decisions of war on behalf of all the Lebanese."

Jumblatt warned of "armed groups planning to carry out terrorist attacks against the Army."

Jumblatt said the current dispute was between the "Hezbollah militia and the government, which is the only one that can take a decision to go to war or peace."

The anti-Syrian ruling majority has intensified its warnings this week after the opposition threatened to take to the streets and destabilize Lebanon.

"If they (the opposition) want a confrontation we are ready for it," majority leader Saad Hariri said Thursday as he was planning a February 14 mass rally to commemorate the 2005 assassination of his father, former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

Lebanon has been without a head of state since November 23, after pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud stepped down at the end of his term with no successor elected by Parliament.

An already oft-delayed Parliament session to elect a new president has been postponed again from Monday until February 26.

Berri has not given a reason for the postponement.

The announcement came shortly after Arab League chief Amr Mussa left Lebanon Saturday after failing to negotiate a solution to end the crisis between the Western-backed ruling majority and the Hezbollah-led opposition.