Lebanese cannabis farmers fire at security forces, causing casualties

BEKAA/BEIRUT: Three policemen and an army lieutenant were wounded Friday in separate shootings over the crackdown on cannabis fields in east Lebanon, security sources said. A major in the Internal Security Forces and the Army lieutenant were wounded when a joint force came under fire by farmers in the Yammouneh area of Baalbek, a security source told The Daily Star. The force was destroying cannabis fields. Yammouneh mayor Mohammad Ali Sharif said Friday tension has been running high in Baalbek since security forces began destroying cannabis fields in Yammouneh. Sharif told The Daily Star that the security force – operating on orders of the Central Office for Drug Control – came under fire after a group of cannabis farmers failed to convince its members to stop the crackdown.

“The farmers had requested that the security force leave the area, but negotiations failed and the shooting began,” Sharif said. Earlier Friday, two policemen were wounded when gunmen shot at a police station near the Baalbek Serail, according to another security source. The source, also speaking on condition of anonymity, identified the policeman as Ali Raad. The other policeman was wounded in his neck. The source said the shooting is likely related to the eradication of cannabis fields in the Bekaa. The crackdown, which began last week, saw policemen come under fire by cannabis farmers in more than one instance. Around 35,000 dunams (8,600 acres) in the northern Bekaa are believed to be used for the cultivation of cannabis, which has long flourished in the fertile valley. The total area of cannabis fields eradicated in the Bekka and elsewhere thus far in the ongoing operation has reached 6615 dunams, the ISF said in a statement Thursday.

via : Daily Star

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