arson attack | 

TV station in Beirut firebombed after satirical sketch references Irish soldier’s murder

Hezbollah supporters claimed the clip “offends the honour of women in the south of Lebanon.”

Private Sean Rooney of Newtowncunningham in Co Donegal© PA

Niall DonaldSunday World

A TV station in Beirut has been firebombed after a political satire show ran a sketch referencing the murder of an Irish soldier, reports have claimed.

Local media have published CCTV images of a group of unidentified man targeting the NewTV studio in the Lebanese capital last week.

The sinister attack came following the broadcast of a satirical clip in a weekly political show on the station and has been linked to Hezbollah supporters,.

The clip, on al-Jadeed's comedy show Fashet Kheleq, referenced the attack on the UNIFIL vehicle in southern Lebanon and the murder of Irish peacekeeper Sean Rooney.

In the short clip, al-Jadeed TV and actress Joanna Karaky plays a southern Lebanese woman who says that “when the UNIFIL peacekeepers first came to southern Lebanon, they took Lebanese wives, so the majority of southerners now have blue or green eyes with blond hair, with some who look more Italian and British than Lebanese.”

However, according to Arab News, the segment sparked outrage in among Hezbollah supporters who “launched a fierce online campaign against NewTV, the station’s news editor Maryam Al-Bassam, the show’s host Dalia Ahmed”.

Hezbollah supporters claimed the clip “offends the honour of women in the south of Lebanon.”

The powerful Supreme Islamic Shiite Council has also slammed the show accusing it of “targeting the Shiite Islamic community…under the guise of satirical shows.”

Hezbollah MP Ibrahim Al-Moussawi called on authorities to take legal measures to ensure that all channels adhere to the laws as well as moral and national obligations.

A main suspect in the killing of Irish UN peacekeeper Private Seán Rooney is reportedly a blacksmith who was arrested after being handed over by Hezbollah.

Pte Rooney was shot dead when the vehicle he was driving came under fire in the village of Al-Aqbiya, south of Beirut.

The 24-year-old was a specialist driver in the United National Interim Forces in Lebanon (Unifil).

Lebanese TV station Al-Jadeed has stated that the main suspect was handed over to investigators from the Lebanese Armed Forces on December 22.

He is described as being from the southern Aadloun region, with Hezbollah reportedly stating he is not a member of the political and militia group, but is a “supporter”.

Private Sean Rooney of Newtowncunningham in Co Donegal© PA

The group quickly distanced itself from any involvement in the attack and said it is cooperating with a Lebanese military intelligence investigation.

In response to queries about the reported arrest, the Defence Forces said: “There are three investigations currently ongoing into this incident. As these investigations are currently ongoing, the Defence Forces has no further comment to make at this time.”

A second soldier, Trooper Shane Kearney (23), from Killeagh, Co Cork, sustained critical injuries in the same attack, while two more peacekeepers suffered non-life-threatening injuries.

Private Sean Rooney's funeral mass in The Church of the Holy Family, Muirhevnamor. Photo: Aidan Dullaghan/Newspics

Mr Kearney was flown home in a special medical evacuation aircraft from Beirut to Dublin last week and was transferred to Beaumont Hospital for ongoing medical treatment.

It had been reported in recent days that Lebanese officials had arrested several suspects in relation to the deadly attack.

Lebanese army intelligence sources confirmed the arrests, and said further suspects are being questioned, while searches are continuing for more people who are suspected of having knowledge about the attack.

Lebanon’s ambassador to the UK and Ireland, Rami Mortada, has also said the investigation is “going in a very promising direction”.

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