KFAR ROUMMANE, Lebanon: Mourners Wednesday gathered in Aishieh, the hometown of Internal Security Forces member Johny Khalil, who was killed in a shooting attack in Tripoli earlier this week that left three other Lebanese servicemen dead.
Ahead of a funeral service at the Maronite Church in the southern Lebanese town, the procession first arrived at Khalil’s parents’ home in the Metn town of Dikwaneh.
Along the way, the funeral procession stopped in the village of Kfar Roummane, not far from Aishieh, where hundreds of mourners gathered, some scattering rice and rose petals on the coffin of the slain ISF officer.
Khalil’s mother, Dina, held her son’s photograph and threw herself onto the coffin. “I will not wear black for my son, but white, because he was the country’s groom. ... Why did they kill him? He was in the prime of his life.”
Khalil’s grandmother, Naziha Sleiman, said that “terrorism has no religion and no sect, and we must all unite in the face of all terrorist acts.”
In a statement, Kfar Roummane Mayor Haitham Abu Zaid said his town “supports its neighbor Aishieh in the mourning of Johny Khalil, who sacrificed his life in the face of the terrorist Mabsout,” referring to the attacker, Abdel-Rahman Mabsout.
Abu Zaid said that those who lost their lives in Tripoli had been protecting “all of Lebanon” and that “terrorism does not distinguish between Muslims and Christians.”
The state-run National News Agency reported that the procession reached Aishieh just after 4 p.m. for the funeral service ahead of a burial, where it was welcomed by the ISF's band and a group of mourners that included ISF head Maj. Gen. Imad Othman and MPs Ziad Aswad and Ibrahim Azar.
Khalil, 26, was killed Monday night when Mabsout, riding a motorcycle through Tripoli, opened fire on ISF and Army personnel before fleeing inside an apartment building and detonating a suicide belt. Mabsout, an Islamist who fought with Daesh (ISIS) in Syria, was arrested by Lebanese security forces on terrorism charges in 2016 and released from Roumieh Prison in late 2017.
Lance Cpl. Khalil was one of two ISF officers who lost their lives, the other being officer Youssef Faraj, 36. They were posthumously promoted to sergeant and lance corporal, respectively.
Two Lebanese Army soldiers - 1st Lt. Hasan Farhat, 28, and soldier Ibrahim Saleh, 20, were also killed in the shooting spree.
Farhat’s funeral is expected to take place Thursday morning in his hometown of Braasheet in Bint Jbeil. Details on the funerals for Farah and Saleh have not yet been reported.