Ban Ki-moon concerned over armed Hizbullah in Lebanon

UN chief calls on group to lay down arms and act solely as political party; Hariri tribune investigators chased by crowd in Beirut.

October 27, 2010 20:00
2 minute read.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

ban ki moon in bishkek 311. (photo credit: AP)


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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a report released Wednesday that he is concerned about Hizbullah in Lebanon having weapons and he believes the group should lay down its arms.

Ban said that both local and foreign militias, that are not subject to government control, are active in Lebanon.

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The UN chief added that only political action within Lebanon could disarm Hizbullah and other terrorist groups.

Ban called on Hizbullah to act solely as a political party with no military function.

Earlier Wednesday , A crowd in Beirut chased away a team of UN officials gathering evidence in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri, scuffling with the investigators and shouting abuse before snatching a briefcase, police said.

Nobody was hurt in the melee, which underscored the charged emotions behind the international tribunal looking into the 2005 assassination. The Hague-based court said they are taking the incident seriously.

The tribunal has not yet indicted any suspects in the assassination, but speculation that the court could name members of Hizbullah has raised fears of violence between the heavily armed guerrilla force and Hariri's mainly Sunni allies.

Wednesday's incident happened at a clinic in Beirut's southern suburb of Ouzai, a Hezbollah stronghold.

Dr. Iman Sharara, who runs the clinic, said two men — an Australian and a French national — showed up with a Lebanese interpreter for an appointment to go through some phone records.

When she went outside to speak to her secretary, she saw a large group of women force their way into the clinic, screaming and trampling on documents belonging to the clinic.

"It looked like a real battle," she told reporters. "The investigators fled. The interpreter, they pulled her hair, they snatched things from them ... I returned to my clinic, hid inside and called my husband."

"I was shocked," she added. "I have no idea how and why this happened."

A police official said more than 30 women stormed the building, with another 75 or so remaining outside. He added, on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to give official statements, that the crowd shouted curses at the tribunal and one protester stole an investigator's briefcase.

It was not clear what was in the briefcase.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV station quoted witnesses as saying patients at the clinic became angry when they saw two foreign investigators walk in.

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