ANJAR (Aztag/Reuters)–A bomb blast destroyed a mosque and shrine (Nebi Aziz) in eastern Lebanon near its border with Syria but injured no one–security sources and witnesses said on Wednesday.
They said a 50-kg (110-lb) explosive charge was planted overnight on the mosque grounds in the town of Anjar–home to a large Armenian community.
Security sources said the motive for the attack was unknown.
Local residents say a Muslim charitable endowment that owns the mosque grounds had been involved in long-running disputes with local people over land ownership in the area.
Authorities are investigating the attack on the shrine–which is estimated to date back 800 years and was a popular pilgrimage site for Sunni Muslims.
Local Muslim clerics held an emergency meeting on Wednesday and condemned the attack–which occurred as Muslims prepared for the Eid al-Fitr feast this week that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan.
The meeting released a communiqu denouncing the act of sabotage and expressing shock at the unprecedented occurrence. The act–stated the communiqu strikes at Lebanon’s unity and rekindles inter-community emotions. They demanded the perpetrators be found and strictly punished. President Emile Lahoud released a statement condemning any attack against religious centers.
Christians make up about a third of Lebanon’s population of roughly four million and the remainder is divided among Shi’ite Muslims–Sunni Muslims and smaller denominations.
In turn–the population of Anjar released a communiqu; the statement stressed that the act will fail to destabilize security– fail to ruin national unity and will fail to disrupt the established harmony–and demanded that security forces capture and strictly punish the perpetrators.
Bekaa Parliament representative Georges Kasarji also issued a statement denouncing the attack; he stressed that the unified communities of Bekaa will halt like attacks and their perpetrators: "As the rest of the communities of Bekaa and Lebanon–the population of Anjar also strictly condemns this act of sabotage and offers support to its neighbors in Majdal Anjar–Bar Eliaz–and neighbors in other villages and offers its assistance in seeking the assailants who conspired in the dark."