Tensions are still running high in Lebanon's Baalbek city after armed members of the Jaafar clan killed an individual from the Chamas clan on Sunday. Tension and security chaos prevailed in the city and nearby villages, while some residents said that Jaafar clan youths closed roads carrying assault rifles and missile weapons.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, Governor of Baalbek-Hermel Bashir Khadr explained that Sunday’s murder was in revenge for an incident that happened in 2017 when two brothers from the Chamas clan killed someone from the Jaafar family. One of them (Aala) was handed over to the security forces and is still in prison. The other (Abbas) was apprehended while visiting Aala in prison because of charges that had been filed against him. In the aftermath, the Jaafar clan assured Mohammed, who is the third brother for Abbas and Aala, that they would not take his life in retaliation.
“Abbas was released from prison a few days ago, and when the Jaafars could not reach him for revenge, they killed his brother Mohammed, who was in his store in Baalbek,” Khadr added.
The official stressed that Mohammed had nothing to do with the murder, which happened three years ago.
"He had been in Beirut at the time.”
Mayor Suleiman Chamas stressed that “tensions are under control so far” and said that other clans in the regions have intervened to contain the crisis. As for the intervention of parties with a strong presence in the area, notably the Amal Movement and Hezbollah, Chamas said that “they have not done so yet”, adding that the matter is left to families and clans to avoid further escalations.
Chamas believes that the Jaafar clan must hand in the murderer and stresses that the statement it released is not sufficient. He also stressed the need for the state to be present in the region and play its role to avoid such incidents' recurrence.
The statement issued on behalf of the Jaafar clan expressed its regret over what had happened between “the Jaafar and Chamas families”. The statement also mentions that the Jaafars rely on “the wisdom of the Chamas clan and prominent figures and political parties in the region to contain what happened”, and that it is ready to “cooperate to put an end to what happened.”
The area’s residents spoke of the hours of terror they underwent after the killing incident. Members of the Jaafar clan went to the Sharawneh neighborhood and celebrated their revenge, firing bullets and rockets.
Videos also circulated showing gunmen from the Chamas family roaming Baalbek’s streets amid a total absence of Lebanese security forces.
A resident from the Chamas family said that “the state's absence has become normal in such incidents, because any intervention that is not coordinated with the clans could lead to more wide-ranging security crises.”