Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Australian media extensively covers Halba massacre

News reached the Australian media on Monday morning that an Australian man had been killed in the massacre. Whilst pro-government media outlets in Lebanon tried to ignore the issue, the media in Australia have not let it slip.

Below is a TV news report by ABC. I couldn't extract the video, or get a direct link. If you wish to view it, click on page 5 of the archive list, or look for the title "Melbourne man killed in Lebanon clashes" with the date Tue, 13 May 2008.

ABC TV news report

The first article below is the full story, but the remainder are excerpts of several articles:

Melbourne Herald Sun - 14/05/08

Matt Dunn

THE widow of a Melbourne father of four murdered and mutilated in a political showdown in Lebanon is in shock.

Fadi Sheikh, 41, was killed in a raid on an opposition party's offices north of Tripoli.

A pro-government mob of attackers reportedly cut off Mr Sheikh's hands and feet after he died.

Mr Sheikh's traumatised wife was being comforted by family members at her Craigieburn home yesterday. Mr Sheikh was in Lebanon visiting his mother.

He was a taxi driver who fled Lebanon 10 years ago, but was not known to make regular trips back to the Middle East.

A family friend denied Mr Sheikh was a key member of the pro-Syrian opposition Hezb al-Kulmi party, which was attacked on Saturday night. But a Hezb al-Kulmi spokesman in Lebanon said Mr Sheikh "was an important member of this organisation".

"They shot him in the gas station, then attacked his body with heavy instruments," he said.

Gruesome video of the attack has been released by the killers.

Three short videos, each up to 90 seconds long, show at least five bloodied bodies surrounded by attackers who continue to kick and beat their victims. One of the men appears to be still alive and tries to fend off further blows before being killed.

A blood-covered cement block used in the murders is visible, and gunshots are heard to ring out.

It is unclear if Mr Sheikh's body is among the group captured on the footage released on the internet.

The raid is believed to have been carried out by Sunni Islamists with the Future Movement party.

Mr Sheikh, himself a Sunni Muslim, travelled to Lebanon before the sectarian violence started six days ago.

"I heard that two bodies were severed, I didn't know all of them were," a Melbourne associate of Mr Sheikh's said yesterday.

"I'm not sure if his family here is aware of the brutality of his death."

Al-Qaida-inspired militants have severed the hands and feet of their victims in previous attacks in Lebanon, particularly in 2007 during exchanges with the Lebanese Army in which several soldiers suffered a similar fate.

The latest round of violence has left at least 60 dead and scores more wounded, stoking fears the country is headed for another all-out conflict.

Army troops were preparing to use force to disarm gunmen and to enforce law and order.


The Australian - 13/05/08

The body of slain Australian Fahdi Sheikh was mutilated by his killers in a petrol station before they rampaged through a nearby political office, killing eight of his colleagues.

ABC News - 12/05/08

Mr Issa says Mr Sheikh was one of 12 people killed when around 100 pro-Government loyalists attacked the office of an Opposition political party.

ABC Radio
(audio) - 12/05/08

The Age - 12/05/08

"Mr Sheikh went to Lebanon to see family and friends and he was just caught up in the fighting and he died. It is very tragic.'' - 12/05/08

He had been in a coalition opposition office, used to provide the community with safety advice and information, when it was stormed by a pro-government mob.

Sydney Morning Herald - 12/05/08

He said the mob attacked everyone inside the building, including Mr Sheikh, who was not in Lebanon for a political reason.

SBS World News Australia - 12/05/08

"It was quite brutal. Some people tried to escape and were hunted down and killed."

Melbourne Herald Sun - 12/05/08

A Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) spokesman said Mr Sheikh's death underlined the highly dangerous situation in Lebanon and the need for Australians to continue to exercise extreme caution.

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