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Anti-Hezbollah activist found dead in southern Lebanon

Lebanese riot police hold a position as they clash with demonstrators during a protest against the government's decision to raise taxes to cover a salary increase for teachers and other public servants, in Beirut,Lebanon on 19 March 2017 [STR/AFP/Getty Images]
Lebanese police in Beirut, Lebanon on 19 March 2017 [STR/AFP/Getty Images]

Anti-Hezbollah activist Luqman Salim has been found dead in his car on Thursday, south of Lebanon. This is the first murder of a prominent anti-Hezbollah activist in years.

Two security sources claimed that Salim, who runs a research centre, was shot twice in the head. The sources added that the motive behind the murder has not yet been discovered, but a preliminary investigation is underway. One of the sources alleged that the victim's phone had been found on the side of a road in southern Lebanon.

The Lebanese authorities have launched an investigation to uncover the circumstances of Salim's death. The National News Agency (NNA) reported that the State Prosecutor of Appeals in the south, Judge Rahif Ramadan, is following up the case and has immediately assigned forensic teams and a medical examiner to examine the body and the car.

Salim's disappearance

Salim's family said that he disappeared overnight, while his wife posted on Twitter that he was not answering his phone. A relative of Salim's explained that the family first heard about his death on the news, while they were at the police station to report his disappearance.

Rasha Salim announced in a tweet: "My brother Luqman Salim left Niha in the south governorate six hours ago to return to Beirut, but he has not shown up. He is not answering his phone, and we could not find him in any hospital. I will be grateful if anyone who knows anything about him reaches out to me." She posted again: "We have found my brother's phone in Niha, near Muhammad Al-Amin's house, but there is no trace of him or his car," asking: "Where is Luqman?"

Salim had warned the Lebanese security forces, before and after the 17 October Revolution, that he had been harassed in the Haret Hreik neighbourhood where he lives, and sent a letter asking the security forces for protection.

The letter stated: "For the second time in 48 hours, I have been threatened and terrorised from night to night by the bats of darkness who seek to violate the privacy of my family house in Haret Hreik, knowing that the offices of the UMAM Documentation & Research and Dar Al-Jadeed are also located in the aforementioned area."

READ: Report: Lebanese use Hezbollah for loans amid the financial crisis

The victim stressed that he was accused of betrayal and verbally abused, adding that threats and accusations of betrayal were written on the fence and entrances to his house.

He expressed in the same letter: "In the case of any verbal or physical assault that may subsequently affect me, my house, my family residence, any member of my family or any inhabitant of the residence, I hold, thereof, with this statement the security forces represented by Mr Hassan Nasrallah and Mr Nabih Berri fully responsible for what has happened in the past, and what may happen in the future, and I entrust the protection of myself, my family and my house to the Lebanese security forces, led by the Lebanese army."

The National Civil Front earlier confirmed that: "The disappearance of writer and political activist Luqman Salim, in an area known to be under the influence of Hezbollah, and finding his phone in Niha, are very dangerous indications that a decision has been made to attack and silence all voices opposing the seizure of Lebanon's sovereignty."

The political coalition added that the situation: "Calls for the security and justice services to take a crucial decision to put an end to organised crime against Lebanese citizens, and the international community to ensure the international protection of the Lebanese people." The National Civil Front emphasised that: "Uncovering the fate of Lukman Salim is an absolute priority to ensure his safe return to his family and friends. Terror will never scare the free and the struggle continues to liberate the country from the corrupt rulers and behind-the-scenes manipulators."

The assassination of Salim comes shortly after the murder of photographer Joseph Bejjani in front of his home in the city of Kahala. No official discoveries have yet been announced by investigators regarding Bejjani's murder.

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