Lebanese security probing missile incident during Hariri’s visit to Bekaa

Investigation is underway to determine whether the missile was fired from a drone or from the ground, as well as to determine the type of missile.
Monday 29/06/2020
A 2016 file photo shows former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, center, waving to supporters. (AP)
A 2016 file photo shows former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, center, waving to supporters. (AP)

BEIRUT –Lebanese security forces are investigating an explosion 11 days ago that took place near the convoy of former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri, Hariri’s office said on Sunday.

Hariri’s office said the incident, in which nobody was hurt, took place during a tour of the eastern Bekaa valley and was not made public at the time to prevent inflaming passions in an already politically charged atmosphere.

“Since the convoy did not get exposed to any attack… (Hariri’s) decision was to keep it secret and await the results of the relevant security forces,” it said in a statement.

Remnants of a missile were found almost 500 metres away from the route taken by Hariri’s 30-car convoy, which was equipped with jamming systems, Saudi owned pan-Arab Al Hadath TV station said in a report on the incident.

The channel added in its report that the explosion occurred as Hariri’s convoy of some 30 vehicles was returning to Beirut after the meeting with sheikh Khalil al-Mais in the eastern village of Makseh.

The report also said security forces searched the area and found the remains of a missile. It added that an investigation was underway to determine whether the missile was fired from a drone or from the ground, as well as to determine the type of missile.

Bodyguards protect then-Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, center left, from water bottles thrown by demonstrators, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. (AP)
Bodyguards protect then-Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, center left, from water bottles thrown by demonstrators, in downtown Beirut, Lebanon. (AP)

Hariri’s office in a statement said most of the report carried by Al-Hadath TV station was “generally accurate.”

Lebanon’s national police said in a statement late Sunday that during Hariri’s visit to the Bekaa, a person told security forces they had witnessed an object crash into the ground and explode.

Hariri, Lebanon’s leading Sunni Muslim politician, resigned last October in the face of mass protests against the sectarian ruling elite.

The country has since then been in the throes of the worst economic and political crisis since its 1975-90 civil war.

Hariri’s father, also a former prime minister, was killed by a bomb in 2005.

A UN-backed tribunal has indicted members of the Iran-backed Hezbollah group of being behind Rafik Hariri’s assassination. Hezbollah, however, denies the accusation.