State Dept. condemns violence in Lebanon

The State Department late Friday warned of escalating violence after bombs killed at least 42 people and wounded more than 400 others near mosques following Friday prayers in Tripoli, Lebanon.

“The United States strongly condemns today’s terrorist bombings at the al-Taqwa and al-Danawi mosques in Tripoli, as we do all violence in Lebanon,” deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said in a statement.

“We extend our deepest sympathies for those killed and concern for those wounded in today’s attack.”

Witnesses told Reuters that anger was rising among locals, who shouted accusations that Syrian President Bashar Assad’s government or Hezbollah were behind the attack as sectarian violence spills over from the civil war in Lebanon’s neighbor.

“The United States urges all parties to exercise calm and restraint and to desist from actions that could contribute to an escalating cycle of retribution and violence,” Harf said.

“We reaffirm our firm commitment to a stable, sovereign, and independent Lebanon and support the Lebanese government’s efforts to restore stability and security in the country,” she added.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the U.N. Security Council condemned the explosions in the northern Lebanese city.

“The Secretary-General calls on all Lebanese to exercise restraint, to remain united, and to support their State institutions, particularly the security forces, in maintaining calm and order in Tripoli and throughout the country, and in preventing the recurrence of such destructive actions,” Ban said in a statement.