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Ban Ki-moon leads UN condemnation of terrorist bus bombings in Lebanon

13 February 2007 Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon voiced outrage at this morning’s terrorist bombing of two commuter buses in Lebanon, calling for an end to impunity and urging the country’s people to maintain national unity despite the recent series of assassinations and terrorist attacks.

“The United Nations strongly rejects attempts to secure political objectives through violence and the killing of innocent civilians,” Mr. Ban said in a statement issued by his spokesperson following the bombings, which have killed three people and wounded at least 18 others in Ain Aaleq, near the mainly Christian town of Bikfaya.

Describing the bombings as a “callous terrorist attack on innocent civilians,” Mr. Ban noted that they occurred the day before the second anniversary of the massive car bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others in Beirut.

“The Secretary-General stresses that there must be an end to impunity and appeals to all Lebanese to maintain national unity in the face of such attempts to undermine the country’s stability,” the statement added.

Also in New York, Alvaro de Soto, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, told the Security Council that the bus attacks “occur at a time of acute political tension in Lebanon.”

He pointed to a domestic political stalemate, noting that there has been “no change in the position of the parties.”

The Security Council set up the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) to examine the Hariri assassination and 14 other bombings in Lebanon, and earlier this month the UN signed an agreement with Lebanon to establish a Special Tribunal to prosecute the suspected killers of Mr. Hariri. The Lebanese Government now has to approve and ratify the agreement for it to enter into force.

Mr. Ban’s condemnation of the bus attacks was echoed in a statement from Geir O. Pedersen, the newly appointed UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon.

Offering his condolences to the families of the victims, Mr. Pedersen stressed that “it was of paramount importance” that the Lebanese maintain national unity, whatever their differences on how best to achieve stability and security, against those who choose violence.

“These actions do not have any place in a tolerant and democratic culture such as Lebanon’s. Those behind today’s wanton death and destruction must be made aware that their political objectives will not be served by spilling the blood of the innocent,” he said.

Mr. Pedersen also drew attention to the timing of the blasts. “That this heinous incident comes just the day before the second anniversary of the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri and 22 others is further reminder of the need for an end to impunity for this and other attacks of its kind.”

As Lebanon works to consolidate stability, sovereignty and prosperity, Mr. Pedersen pledged the UN “will continue to stand by all Lebanese in achieving these objectives.”

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