No progress made in investigations surrounding Zahle church bombing
- BEIRUT: Investigations into a bomb that exploded near a church in the town of Zahle in Bekaa had made no progress as of Monday, a security source told The Daily Star.
“Investigations need more time to uncover the circumstances behind the explosion,” the source said.
A device containing 2 kilograms of TNT exploded inside Saidat al-Najat church at 4.15 a.m. Sunday morning, in a detonation performed via cellphone.
The blast wrought extensive damage to the church, shattering windows, destroying benches and blowing out a side door. The explosion was powerful enough to damage seven cars parked nearby.
“The military judiciary tasked the anti-terrorism office with carrying out the primary investigations while the other security apparatus will contribute to the investigation,” a judicial source said.
“Camera footage of the surrounding area did not reveal any leads, which means that those behind the explosion carefully scanned the area and avoided the surveillance cameras before placing the bomb,” the source added.
The source said precautions taken by the perpetrators showed they had some expertise in carrying out terrorist and criminal acts.
No information was made available on whether attempts to obtain phone records in order to trace the culprits had been fruitful.
A security source told The Daily Star Sunday that this is the first time a bomb has been detonated via cellphone in Lebanon.
For a second consecutive day, visiting delegations to Zahle’s Syriac Orthodox Diocese condemned the explosion.
Among the visitors were Bekaa Prosecutor Farid Kallass, Zahle Electricity Director General Asaad Nakad and a delegation from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.
Speaker Nabih Berri and Metn MP Nabil Nicholas both phoned Bishop George Saliba to condemn the incident.
The Syriac Orthodox Diocese issued a statement late Monday thanking political and religious figures who gathered in Zahle to follow up on the incident. – The Daily Star