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Lebanon calls for calm after minister shot at 

Lebanon's President Michel Aoun attends a meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (not seen) at Moscow's Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on March 26, 2019. [Russian Presidential Press and Information Office - Anadolu Agency]
Lebanon's President Michel Aoun attends a meeting with Russia's President Vladimir Putin (not seen) at Moscow's Kremlin in Moscow, Russia on March 26, 2019. [Russian Presidential Press and Information Office - Anadolu Agency]

Lebanese President Michel Aoun yesterday issued orders to restore calm in the Mount Lebanon governorate after the State Minister for Refugee Affairs Saleh Al-Gharib’s convoy was shot at.

Two government officials died after Al-Gharib’s convoy came under fire as it passed through the mountain village of Qabr Shamoun close to Beirut on Sunday.

The violence erupted after followers of the Lebanese Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) blocked off the road to prevent Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, who planned to visit the area, from passing through.

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The PSP is opposed to the neighbouring Syrian government and led by Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, whose support base is in Aley, near where the shooting took place.

Both Bassil and Al-Gharib are allies of Hezbollah, which is supportive of the Syrian government. Al-Gharib is close to the pro-Syrian Druze leader Talal Arslan, Jumblatt’s rival.

In response Arslan’s supporters blocked a major highway in the country and burnt tyres to disrupt the traffic.

Al-Gharib told Lebanon’s Al-Jadeed TV the shooting was “an armed ambush and a clear assassination attempt” whilst PSP said that Al-Ghraib’s aides opened fire “randomly” at people manning the road block.

Lebanon’s top defence council has ordered an investigation into the shooting and said that it “took decisive decisions to restore security without hesitation and to detain all those wanted.”

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