In a telephone discussion with Lebanon's Prime Minister Najib Mikati on Friday's deadly bomb blast in Beirut, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today expressed his solidarity with the country's people and commended how the matter how been dealt with by its leadership, according to Mr. Ban's spokesperson.
“The Secretary-General offered his deepest condolences for the loss of life, and noted he had issued a strong statement on the attack,” the spokesperson said in a note to the media. “He expressed strong solidarity with the people of Lebanon and commended the Prime Minister, the Government and the President for their handling of the matter.”
Following the earlier call with the Prime Minister, the UN chief spoke with Lebanon's President Michel Sleiman. In that call, according to Mr. Ban's spokesperson, the Secretary-General expressed outrage over the bombing and his hope for a speedy recovery for those wounded, as well as his condolences. He also underscored the need to bring the perpetrators to justice.
The attack occurred in the capital city's mainly Christian district of Ashrafiya and, according to media reports, killed at least eight people while injuring dozens others. Among the dead was General Wissam al-Hassan, a senior commander in the Lebanese Internal Security Forces.
“The Secretary-General underscored the importance of President Sleiman and Prime Minister Mikati continuing their policy of protecting Lebanon by dissociating the country from regional events,” Mr. Ban's spokesperson said.
“The Secretary-General affirmed the strong commitment of the international community for Lebanon's sovereignty and stability,” the spokesperson added. “Noting the need for strong leadership at this critical time, he pledged his support to President Sleiman and Prime Minister Mikati.”
On Friday, the UN chief had condemned the bomb explosion, and urged all political actors in the Middle Eastern country to maintain their commitment to Lebanese unity. The members of the Security Council issued a press statement of a similar nature.
The incident comes amidst fears that the conflict in neighbouring Syria, where more than 20,000 people, mostly civilians, have died since an uprising against the Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began last year, could spill over into Lebanon and exacerbate the delicate sectarian balance already existing in the country.