BEIRUT (AP) — Two land mines exploded early Wednesday along the Lebanon-Syria border wounding three Syrians trying to illegally cross into Lebanon, the Lebanese army said in a statement Wednesday.
The army said the mines exploded on the Syrian side of the border and that the wounded were rushed by the Lebanese Red Cross to a hospital in northern Lebanon for treatment.
Over the past months, thousands of Syrian citizens fleeing worsening economic conditions in their war-torn country made it to Lebanon through illegal crossing points seeking a better life. But Lebanon is going through its own four-year meltdown, with a drowning economy — pinning its hopes on tourism — and crumbling infrastructure where electricity and water cuts are widespread.
The local Al-Jadeed TV said one of the victims, an 18-year-old, lost a leg and an arm, and suffered shrapnel wounds in the neck leaving him in critical condition. Another young man also lost his leg while the third, a 27-year-old, suffered some shrapnel wounds in the back.
The Lebanese army said in a statement Tuesday that it prevented 1,250 Syrians from crossing into Lebanon this week alone. It said another 1,200 Syrians were prevented from reaching Lebanon the previous week.
Lebanon hosts some 805,000 United Nations-registered Syrian refugees, but officials estimate the actual number to be between 1.5 million and 2 million.
Lebanon's caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati warned last week that thousands of Syrian refugees who have been coming to Lebanon over the past months, “ could create harsh imbalances” in the small Mediterranean nation.