Gunmen target army patrol in Lebanon, 12 arrested

June 15th, 2008 - 4:53 am ICT by IANS  

Beirut, June 15 (DPA) Lebanese forces detained 12 people Saturday after gunmen fired at an army patrol near a Palestinian refugee camp in the north of the country, a Lebanese security official said. The incident took place in Qobbeh, a predominantly Sunni district on the northeastern edge of the port city of Tripoli, the official said.

“Unidentified gunmen fired as the army patrol was passing by, but there were no injuries,” he said.

The attack prompted the Lebanese army to increase its presence in the area.

Army posts have been the target of similar attacks in northern Lebanon.

On Thursday, the army defused a roadside bomb near a military base north of Tripoli and last month a soldier was killed in a blast at an army intelligence base in Abdeh, also in the north.

The latest violence comes as efforts to form a new national unity government are deadlocked over key portfolios, including the defence and interior ministries, despite an agreement last month by rival factions.

Visiting Arab League Secretary General Amr Mussa said Saturday he would not interfere in the make-up of the new cabinet or the distribution of portfolios.

Premier-designate Fouad Seniora Saturday said “national and security needs require that President Michel Suleiman names the defence and interior ministers”.

“There are still obstacles, but we are working on overcoming them,” Seniora said after meeting Suleiman, the former army chief.

A deal mediated in Qatar in May ended a violent standoff between the US-backed ruling coalition and the opposition spearheaded by the Shia Hezbollah group.

Under the agreement, majority factions will be allocated 16 ministers, the opposition 11 and the president three.

Suleiman reappointed Seniora May 28, asking him to form a cabinet set to rule until a 2009 parliamentary election.

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