Father of Lebanese soldier killed by Nusra Front admits revenge murder on TV

Reuters News
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Posted: May 24, 2016 11:49 AM

BEIRUT (Reuters) - The father of a Lebanese soldier kidnapped and killed by al Qaeda's Syrian wing said on television on Tuesday that he had killed the nephew of a man he accused of being involved in the murder and had dumped the body near his son's grave.

Soldier Muhammad Maarouf Hamiyeh was among a group of Lebanese soldiers and policemen captured in an attack by Islamic State and Nusra Front militants on the Lebanese border town of Arsal in August 2014. He was killed four months later by the al Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.

Some of those captured were killed, some were released and nine are still being held by Islamic State.

The kidnappings happened in a mountainous area of Lebanon near the Syrian border.

The revenge murder could exacerbate tensions between the local Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim communities already inflamed by the war in Syria that has occasionally spilled over the frontier.

Hamiyeh's father, Maarouf Hamiyeh, called in to Lebanese television station al-Jadid and said he had kidnapped and murdered the nephew of a Lebanese man, Mostafa al-Hujairi, whom he had accused of having helped deliver his son to the militants.

Lebanon's National News Agency said the army was now searching for Maarouf Hamiyeh in his village in the Bekaa valley.

Hamiyeh told al-Jadid he would not rest until others from the same family whom he says were involved in his son's murder were also killed. He also said that he took revenge because the state was not doing enough to punish the perpetrators.

"We carried out the killing of the Hujairi son to avenge our martyred son. We carried the body and put it on the grave," Hamiyeh said. "This is a direct confession. My son's blood was not shed in vain."

"If the Hujairi family retaliates, we will open fire upon the whole family," he said.

Hamiyeh later conducted a live television interview with an al-Jadid reporter from an undisclosed location as police searched for him.

None of the Hujairi family have commented publicly on Hamiyeh's accusations.

Al-Jadid broadcast photographs which it said showed the body of Hussein Hujairi. They showed a man in stained jeans and a black sports jacket lying on his back with a number of bullet holes visible.

The Lebanese army regularly stages operations against Islamic State and Nusra Front militants in the border areas of north Lebanon.

(Reporting by Laila Bassam and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Louise Ireland and Hugh Lawson)