Lebanon army calls for political 'caution' as violence continues


Lebanese soldiers patrol the Corniche al-Mazraa neighbourhood of the capital Beirut, on October 22, 2012. The army said it was determined to restore order in Lebanon, roiled by growing political tensions linked to Syria after a top policeman was murdered and former premier Rafiq Hariri called for the government to step down.



Following several violent incidents over the weekend, Lebanese army officials are now urging the country's political leaders to show caution when expressing their opinions on the ongoing violence in the region. 

The mounting tensions in Lebanon came after the assassination of Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, a Sunni and the head of the intelligence branch of the Internal Security Forces, who was killed in a car bomb on Friday along with his bodyguard and at least one other person. Al-Hassan had been an outspoken opponent of Syria, according to the Associated Press. Opposition leaders in Lebanon blamed the Syrian regime for his death.

More from GlobalPost: Beirut car bomb: Intelligence chief Wissam al-Hassan reported dead (VIDEO)

In a statement to the BBC, a Lebanese army official said the last few hours "have proven without a doubt that the country is going through a decisive and critical time and the level of tension in some regions is rising to unprecedented levels." He urged "all political leaders to be cautious when expressing their stances and opinions, because the fate of the nation is at stake."

Following Hassan's funeral, troops and gunmen exchanged fire in Beirut's southern suburbs. The firefight wounded five people. Protesters also blocked roads with burning tires, according to Reuters. 

Ongoing clashes between gunmen and security forces were reported around Beirut on Monday, USA Today reported. "Heavy gunfire took place in neighborhoods until the Lebanese army restored calm Monday night," the outlet wrote.

Over the weekend, four people were killed, including a 9-year-old girl, in the northern city of Tripoli. Twelve more people were wounded in clashes overnight and in the morning, security and medical sources told Reuters.

Syria has denied responsibility for Hassan's killing, and no evidence has emerged publicly linking the Syrian government to the attack, the Los Angeles Times reported.