Lebanese leaders urge restraint after murders in disputed area triggers sectarian tension

Lebanese leaders urge restraint after murders in disputed area triggers sectarian tension
The murders of the two brothers sparked anger in their hometown of Bsharri.
2 min read
04 July, 2023
The details of the killings remain unclear, but dozens have reportedly been detained in connection with the murder. [Getty]

Lebanese political and religious leaders have urged restraint after the killing of two brothers in the country's north, seeking to head off sectarian tensions between neighbouring towns.

Two brothers, Haitham and Malik Tok, were found dead on Saturday in Qornet al-Sawda, Lebanon's highest mountain peak.

The area is under dispute between two neighbouring towns, Maronite Christian Bsharri and Sunni Muslim Bkaasafrine, and clashes have occurred in the past over property rights.

The circumstances of the Tok brothers' death remain unclear, with local media circulating accounts of a clash between the two towns or a possible clash with the Lebanese army.

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The Army sent reinforcements to the area and has arrested dozens in connection with the killings.

A spokesperson from the army told The New Arab that there are "detainees from both sides," but refused to provide further details as the investigation is still ongoing.

A funeral for the two victims was held in Bsharri on Monday, with attendees expressing anger over the killings.

"Had we not calmed down the young people pending the investigation's results, the repercussions could have been more dangerous," Toni Chidiac, the lawyer of the victims' families, said at the funeral.

Sethrida Geagea, the MP for the area, called for the killers to be held accountable and for an investigation to be quickly conducted.

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Religious leaders from the area gave statements expressing sympathies for those killed and asking for "restraint" from residents in the area.

"We are counting on the army to impose security for the benefit of all, and on the people of Bsharri for restraint, as well as to put the ongoing dispute in the Qornet al-Sowda in the hands of the judiciary," Maronite Patriarch Boutros al-Rahi said on Sunday.

Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati also called for calm in the area.