Lebanese security forces last night detained a man thought to be behind the mass shooting which took place in the southern village of Baakline earlier this week, according to the National News Agency (NNA).
Mazen Harfoush was apprehended in the Chouf town of Ainbal after a two-day manhunt in the southern Lebanese region.
Internal Security Forces, military and local municipal police personnel took part in the search, setting up a 20-kilometre perimeter around Baakline village. Officers brought in police dogs to aid them, NNA reported.
According to local daily Al-Akbar, Harfoush “surrendered to [municipal police] without resistance before he was taken by Judicial Police to the Beiteddine police department”.
Harfoush is accused of killing nine people, among them six Syrian nationals, including two children aged ten and 15, and three Lebanese, with a knife, pump action rifle and a Kalashnikov assault rifle.
Eight of the victims were males, and one a female, according to source quoted by the Daily Star, and include Mazen’s brothers, Fawzi and Karim Harfoush, and his wife, Manal Al-Timani.
Reuters reported the incident was a suspected “honour killing” – where a person is murdered for actions which “bring shame” to the family.
The Al-Akbar article corroborated the report, saying Harfoush “claimed that he committed the crime after suspecting that his wife was cheating on him with his brother Fawzi although he had no evidence.”
The report added that Harfoush killed his wife by stabbing her more than 13 times, before leaving the house in fresh clothes with a hunting rifle to seek out his second target, his brother Fawzi.
After hiding Fawzi’s body near the river, the accused tried to find his younger brother Karim, who, he believed, was aware of the affair.
On his search, Harfoush went on a killing spree, shooting dead a young Syrian man, and Arsal native Mohammed Awdeh after a chance encounter with the pair.
According to Al-Akbar, Harfoush “searched at an under-construction house and murdered four people including two children. His brother Karim appeared before him at that point, so he killed him with two gunshots”.
When questioned on why he killed six people who are not relatives, Harfoush claimed he lost control after murdering his wife and two brothers.
Member of Parliament from Baakline Marwan Hamadeh, likened the incident “to the shootings that happened in America”.
The incident is believed to be the largest mass shooting in Lebanon since 2002, when an Education Ministry official walked into the Beirut offices of the Private School Teachers Mutual Fund and killed eight co-workers.