A dispute between owners of power generators in the Lebanese southern city of Sidon escalated on Monday into an armed clash that left two people dead before the army intervened to contain the unrest.
The perpetrators were arrested as authorities in the city scrambled to contain the fallout from the clash, denying that it was politically motivated as evidence that both sides were affiliated with the “Hezbollah” armed group.
The incident occurred in the Barrad neighborhood in central Sidon when a verbal dispute erupted between a member of the Shehadeh family and Walid al-Saddiq, an owner of a power generator that provides electricity to subscribers.
The dispute turned into an armed clash after one of the Shehadeh members, a Palestinian, opened fire at Saddiq’s office, killing two people. The victims have been identified as Lebanese Ibrahim al-Janzoury and Palestinian Seraj Abdulaziz. Mohammed al-Rifai and Hassan Taleb were also wounded in the attack.
The situation escalated when relatives of the Shehadeh and Saddiq families intervened and a shootout ensued.
Relatives of the deceased also attempted to block the roads in the area to protest the death of their loved ones. Angry protesters set fire to stores and houses belonging to the Shehadeh family. No one from the family was wounded as they had fled the scene in anticipation of a retaliation.
The army soon intervene and deployed heavily in the area to end the clash and the perpetrators were arrested.
A security source denied to Asharq Al-Awsat that the attack was politically motivated, saying that the army had taken the decision to thwart any security incident and prevent its escalation.
All those involved in the shootout and the consequent acts of revenge have been detained, it added.
Judge Aouni Ramadan told Asharq Al-Awsat that the competition to gain new electricity subscribers is the only cause for the clash.
The Army Command issued a statement on Monday night, identifying the shooters as Palestinians Omar Ahmed Shehadeh, Mustapha Shehadeh and his brother Ahmed, Mahmoud Abou Rashed, Ibrahim al-Farran and Eyad Wehbe and Lebanese Abdul Hussein Saleh.
A number of mobile phones, cameras, ammunition and military gear were seized in their possession, said the statement.
Sidon municipal chief Mohammed al-Saudi hinted that the attackers are all affiliated to the same political side.
“The incident has purely financial motives,” he explained.
He later told Asharq Al-Awsat that he ruled out political motives, because the attackers are close to “Hezbollah”.
The security by-council in the South held a meeting in the Sidon Serail to tackle the clash, calling for the formation of a security committee and handing over of the wanted Lebanese suspects to the Lebanese authorities.
Former Prime Minister Fouad Saniora condemned in a statement the “reckless” Sidon clash, blaming it on groups that seek the “easy route of violence and weapons to commit crimes and create unrest.”
MP Bahia Hariri and Mufti of Sidon and nearby provinces Sheikh Salim Sousan also condemned the unrest, rejecting the “spread of arms, whose proliferation is threatening the security and stability of the city and the safety of its residents.”