EU's Ashton 'deeply concerned' by violence in Lebanon
(BRUSSELS) - EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday she was "deeply concerned" by violence in Lebanon involving pro- and anti-Syrian groups that has sparked concerns of wider conflict.
Ashton said in a statement she was "closely following the events in Lebanon and is deeply concerned at the outbreaks of violence in Tripoli and Beirut, which have led to the death of several persons and injury of dozens of others."
"These events must be duly investigated and followed by Lebanon's law enforcement authorities.
Violence erupted in Beirut hours after reports emerged that troops had shot dead Sheikh Ahmad Abdul Wahid, a prominent anti-Syria Sunni cleric, when his convoy failed to stop at a checkpoint in north Lebanon on Sunday. Another cleric in the car was also killed.
Protesters blocked roads and burned tyres in the northern region of Akkar following the killing of the clerics, and by evening the unrest had spread to the capital.
Ashton said she was "also concerned at the killing of two local dignitaries by soldiers of the Lebanese Armed Forces in the Akkar region. The circumstances of their death must be promptly investigated and appropriate measures taken that respect the rule of law."
Ashton said she supported "all efforts aimed at maintaining order, defusing tensions and ensuring calm and security for all, throughout the country" and reaffirmed "her commitment to Lebanon's sovereignty, independence, unity and stability."
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