At least three people have been killed during an ambush by armed assailants on Shia mourners in a town south of the Lebanese capital of Beirut.
The deadly incident occurred in the town of Khaldeh on Sunday afternoon, when unidentified assailants mortally wounded at least three people in a mourning ceremony, unnamed security sources were quoted by Reuters as saying.
The incident, which also left several people wounded, came just a day after a member of Hezbollah, named Ali Shibli, was shot dead during a wedding ceremony.
Footage of a video about the Sunday incident broadcast on Hezbollah's al-Manar TV channel showed a volley of gunfire being fired on the convoy of mourners arriving at Shibli’s home in Khaldeh.
In a statement on the killing of Shibli, Hezbollah called on “competent authorities to respond firmly to perpetrators and prosecute instigators,” adding that he “died by the logic of impunity and fanaticism.”
The resistance movement also said that the deadly incident reflected lawlessness and bigotry.
In a later statement regarding the Sunday incident, Hezbollah said the mourners were confirmed dead in what it said was a planned ambush, calling on the army and security forces to restore security in the town.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun said in a statement that the situation “does not allow any security incidents” that could inflame sectarian tensions.
He also called on the army leadership to take immediate measures to restore calm to the Khaldeh area, arrest the shooters and withdraw the gunmen from it.
“The current circumstances do not allow any security breach or practices that fuel the required sedition and nip it in the bud, and all parties must cooperate to achieve this goal,” Aoun added.
He also ordered the security forces to “ensure the safe movement of citizens on the international road.”
Prime Minister-designate Najib Mekati, for his part, called on the head of the army to boost its security presence in Khaldeh, which is situated on a coastal highway leading to the south of Lebanon.
In a statement, Sunni Arab tribes residing in the town said following the killing of Shibli on Saturday, that they had taken revenge for the purported death of one of their relatives during earlier sectarian clashes in Khaldeh.
Furthermore, a grouping of Arab Sunni tribes in the country also said in a statement that they did not want to be dragged into an armed confrontation.
The Lebanese army, which has sent reinforcements to the flashpoint town, said in a statement that it would shoot at any source of gunfire in the area. This is while the local television networks showed footage of armed young men rampaging in Khaldeh.