Lebanese anti-drug police on missions to destroy marijuana fields in the Bekaa Valley came under attack at least twice on Monday, the first day of annual eradication efforts aimed at the valley's deeply-embedded trade in hashish.
The Lebanon Daily Star reported an early morning shoot-out on the Boudai Plain on the outskirts of the city of Baalbek. Later in the day, NowLebanon.com reported on a second clash near the town of Ollaq. No injuries were reported in either incident.
In the Boudai Plain incident, unknown assailants fired at least five rocket propelled grenades toward police razing the fields. The attackers fled after exchanging gunfire with security forces.
Later in the day, security forces again came under attack as they destroyed a marijuana field in the town of Ollaq. Armed men shot at the eradicators, as well as again launching missiles. The rockets damaged two cars, one belonging to the head of the anti-drug police, Col. Adel Mashmoushi, and one belonging to a Lebanese television network.
"The perpetrators fled the scene in four cars after then 10-minute fire fight," the Lebanese National News Agency reported.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime's 2011 World Drug Report, Lebanon is the world's third largest hashish producer, accounting for 6% of global production. Morocco leads with about 19% of global production, followed by Afghanistan with about 10%, and then Lebanon.
After day one of this year's eradication effort, it appears Bekaa Valley hash producers aren't giving up without a fight.