Two aides of Lebanese minister shot dead as convoy hit by gunfire

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Two people who were accompanying Lebanon’s Minister of State for Refugee Affairs Saleh al-Gharib have been killed when gunmen opened fire on their convoy in the governorate of Mount Lebanon, sources said.

The area where the incident took place near Aley is loyal to anti-Damascus Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, whose Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) denied any involvement in the incident.

In an interview with Lebanon’s al-Jadeed TV, Gharib said that “what happened was an armed ambush and a clear assassination attempt.”

Initial reports said that gunmen fired at the minister's convoy, during which three of his bodyguards were injured, two died later of their wounds.

Roads to towns and villages in Mount Lebanon were blocked by supporters of Jumblatt who opposed a visit by Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, the head of the Free Patriotic Movement Chief, to the area.

The Progressive Socialist Party (PSP) added that the minster’s bodyguards fired on the protesters despite their attempts to open the road and remove the blockades.

In the meantime, Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri held a series of contacts to de-escalate the tensions, stressing on the urgent need to contain the incident.

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