News | Lebanon
NOW Lebanon reporter Ana Maria Luca reported in a blogpost posted on NOW Lebanon on Thursday, October 4, 2012, that she and her colleague Naziha Baassiri were detained by Hezbollah members in Nabi Sheet, on Wednesday, October 3. Following is her account of the incident:
I was in the Baalbeck area with my colleague Naziha Baassiri for a story yesterday when our co-workers told us about an explosion in the village of Nabi Sheet. As any journalist would do, we rushed to the scene.
At the entrance of Nabi Sheet, a few kilometers away from the explosion site, two young men dressed as civilians whistled at our taxi and signaled to the driver to pull over.
After pulling over we explained to the man that we were journalists and we came to examine the explosion. But instead of directing us to the location, the young man got angry, pulled his walkie-talkie from his back pocket and told the base he had a serious problem: a Romanian and “another one from Saida.”
He opened the door, dragged the driver out and took the car keys from the car. He pushed the driver of our taxi towards his companion, they searched him and interrogated him about the purpose of our trip. The driver, a man in his fifties who was born in the region, explained to them calmly that he was driving two journalists, that we had been in the village of Bodai for a report when we heard about the explosion. But something must have made the young man very angry because he got in the driver’s seat and drove off with the car’s wheels crunching gravel.
“Who are you and where are you taking us? What’s your name and why aren’t you wearing a uniform?” we kept asking. But the man did not identify himself. We tried calling our newsroom to tell them we were in trouble, but the man shouted at us to switch off our phones.
He repeated to his companions on the walkie-talkie that he is bringing in the “suspicious Romanian woman and the one from Saida.” He drove uphill for around ten minutes, until we reached a house that I assume was the local Hezbollah office. The men surrounded our taxi, opened my door and asked me to come out. I refused but let them see my notebook and papers.
The man who searched my bag and appeared to be the leader of the group asked why we were there. Naziha explained again that we were journalists and we came to do a report about the explosion. “It was mazout [Diesel fuel],” he said. “Now leave.”
When we got to Beirut we found out from a Hezbollah official statement that it was not mazout. Three Hezbollah fighters had been killed and several other people wounded in a blast at a depot for what was said to be old ammunition; remnants of the Israeli attacks on the area. Nabi Sheet is known to host a Hezbollah military base where the party is training its fighters and the location is known to have been bombed by Israeli forces in the 2006 war.