Three Lebanese Army intelligence soldiers were killed, and four were injured, after being ambushed while pursuing a stolen car near Hermel in northern Lebanon yesterday.
A statement reported that the army patrol was chasing a stolen car when the soldiers were ambushed and came under fire.
Initially, two soldiers were reported dead in the attack, with the death toll later rising to three. One gunman who opened fire was reported killed, and the driver of the vehicle was arrested.
The attack took place in Hermel, in the Ras Al-Assi region, in the north-east of Lebanon, close to the Syrian border.
State news agency LBC reported that the Lebanese army cordoned off the area yesterday afternoon, after killing a fugitive known as Kh. A. D. The army has since operated patrols in the city.
The Army later identified the fallen soldiers as 1st Sergeant Ali Nayef Ismail, 1st Sergeant Ahmad Karam Haidar Ahmad and Hasan Mohamad Ezzeddine.
Prime Minister Hassan Diab, condemned the attack, stressing that "the ambush that the Lebanese army patrol has been subjected to actually targets stability, which the Lebanese army plays an essential role in protecting."
Interior and Municipalities Minister Mohamad Fahmi echoed similar sentiments terming "army attack against the Lebanese Army… an attack against Lebanon as a whole", according to state-run National News Agency.
Both Fahmi and Diab called the military "the safety valve of the nation".
While Diab called for the speedy arrest of the perpetrators and said: "God rest the souls of the martyrs and best wishes to the wounded for a speedy recovery."
Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Zeina Akar similarly offered her condolences and said, "with hope, will and determination we will all work to restore security and justice in Lebanon", via Twitter.
It is a rare attack on the Lebanese army, and circumstances remain unclear.
The Hermel area, known as a Hezbollah stronghold, was previously the site of multiple blast attacks in late 2013 and early 2014. Most of the attacks targeted Lebanese military bases in the region.
The Lebanese wing of the Al-Nusra front claimed responsibility for the attacks, calling them retaliation for alleged Hezbollah crimes against Sunni women and children in Syria.