Lebanese villagers kill murder suspect in mob vengeance

Egyptian man was arrested on suspicion of killing four members of a local family.

April 29, 2010 18:37
2 minute read.
Lebanese villagers gather near the body of Egyptia

Lebanese lynching 311. (photo credit: Associated Press)


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A crowd of angry Lebanese villagers stabbed to death an Egyptian man Thursday and paraded his body through town in a revenge attack after he was arrested on suspicion of killing four members of a local family, security officials said.

The rare mob attack shocked many, and security officials said police who were escorting the man at the time were unable to prevent the killing in the Chouf mountain town of Ketermaya.

Interior Minister Ziad Baroud ordered an investigation and said such vigilante justice was "extremely dangerous."

Mohammed Msallem, a 38-year-old Egyptian who worked as a butcher in Ketermaya, had been arrested a day earlier on suspicion of shooting to death an elderly couple and their two young granddaughters, aged 7 and 9.

He was leading police investigators through a reenactment of the killings when dozens of residents attacked him with sticks and knives, security officials and witnesses said.

Police rushed Msallem to the intensive care unit of a nearby hospital, but residents broke in, dragged him out and pounded him with sticks, the witnesses said.

A security official said police on the scene could not stop the attackers, who blocked streets in the village to prevent police reinforcements from reaching the scene. He and other security officials spoke on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

After killing Msallem, the attackers stripped his bloody body down to the underpants and drove it through town on a car hood, with several local men standing on the hood cheering. They then hanged the body from a pole in the center of town as residents cried "Allahu Akbar," or God is great and some in the crowd took pictures.

His body hung from the pole for about 10 minutes before Lebanese army troops took him down and drove him away in a jeep, an AP photographer at the scene said.

Security officials said Msallem had confessed to killing the four family members, but the motive was not immediately clear. One official said Ketermaya residents also believed Msallem had raped a 15-year-old local girl a month earlier, but that report could not be independently confirmed.

There was no immediate word of arrests in the attack. Crime has been on the rise in Lebanon but such vigilante mob killings have been rare since the end of the 1975-90 civil war, during which political violence was common.

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