Christians fear attacks by Muslim extremists in northern Lebanon

Other News Materials 6 October 2008 22:00 (UTC +04:00)

The Christian community in Lebanon has received warnings of preparations by Sunni fundamentalist groups to launch a "suicide attack" against a Christian target in northern Lebanon, local Lebanese media and political sources said Monday, dpa reported.

A Christian political figure, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the Lebanese security authorities have been advised to take extra precautionary measures around churches, monasteries, schools and universities run by Christian organizations, as well as the seats of bishops in the northern city of Tripoli and surrounding villages.

The undisclosed source said that many leaders from his community, including himself, who are from northern Lebanon, were also threatened by the attacks from such groups, who are believed to be loyal to the al-Qaeda terrorist network.

"We have received information through Lebanese and international security departments to be careful of our movements in the coming days," the Christian official said.

Lebanese authorities have already tightened security around the houses of key Christian leaders in northern Lebanon.

"The attackers are aiming to stir up new civil strife between the Muslims and the Christians in northern Lebanon," the source said.

Christian figures from Lebanon's anti-Syrian political camp believe they will be the main targets of such attacks.

On the other hand, Christian figures from the pro-Syrian camp led by the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah believe that the anti- Syrian majority is trying to ignite fear among their population in order to torpedo the May 2009 parliamentary elections.

"The ruling majority knows that they will not be able to harvest the majority of the new parliament's seats this time and they want to terrorize the people by spreading such rumors," said Waeem Wahab, a member of the opposition.

Since 2005, Lebanon has been hit by a series of political assassinations, the most provocative being the killing of former premier Rafik Hariri, which was widely blamed on Syria. Damascus has vehemently denied such allegations.