Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
01:37 AM Beirut time
22 °C
Blom Index
Lebanon News
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Heightened security reassures holiday revelers
Lebanese soldiers stand guard in front of the ABC in Dbayeh, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Army Website, HO)
Lebanese soldiers stand guard in front of the ABC in Dbayeh, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (The Daily Star/Lebanese Army Website, HO)
A+ A-

BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces boosted security measures over the weekend ahead of the holiday season, particularly around places of worship and shopping centers.

In a statement, the Army General Directorate said that military units expanded their deployment in the north, Mount Lebanon, Beirut, the Bekaa Valley and the south.

It added that it had taken a series of strict security measures in order to reassure citizens and protect them and their properties.

“The measures were focused on places of worship, main highways, shopping centers, state institutions and tourist areas,” the statement said.

The Army also asked citizens to respond well to such security measures, cooperate with the military and take initiative to contact it in case of suspicion.

Soldiers and tanks were deployed outside malls in Dbayyeh, Dora and Ashrafieh as well as in various churches in Beirut and its suburbs.

At ABC in Ashrafieh, the armored tank squatting at the intersection next to one of the main entrances of the shopping center seemed at odds with the lights and cheery holiday music, but friends Mirna Bultaji and Andrea Atallah said it made them feel safer.

“We are very happy [with the security measures],” Atallah said, adding that she was on a “mini” Christmas shopping trip. “We were just saying that they should do this all year, not just during the holidays.”

They confirmed they had noticed more soldiers and military vehicles at major intersections and churches, dismissing concerns the measures might exacerbate the heavy holiday traffic.

“The traffic will be there no matter what,” Bultaji said.

The mall had taken its own initiatives, requiring patrons to pass through metal detectors and subjecting them to more thorough bag checks than the usual casual wave of the smaller, hand-held detector.

There was no evidence of increased security, however, at the new Beirut City Centre mall, but that did not seem to worry Hisham Hajj.

“If someone wants to blow something up, he will do it anyway, regardless of security measures,” Hajj said. “The Boston Marathon had security, but anyone could decide to do something.”

Hajj said the heightened measures were mostly for show.

“It makes people feel better,” he said with a shrug.

Lebanon has been rocked by a series of bombs in the past couple of months, mostly targeting Hezbollah-strongholds in the Bekaa Valley and Beirut’s southern suburbs.

Some of the attacks, which were claimed by takfiri groups, were in retaliation for Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria.

The bombings include the Nov. 19 twin suicide attack against the Iranian Embassy and the most recent suicide attacks against the Lebanese Army in Sidon on Dec. 15.

Meanwhile, the acting head of the ISF, Brig. Gen. Ibrahim Basbous, issued an order to all working units at the police force to remain on high alert starting Dec. 23 at 8 a.m.

He ordered police units to deploy in military and civilian clothing and erect checkpoints on main roads outside places of worship, nightclubs, restaurants and shopping centers.

He also asked the Information Branch and judicial police to increase their efforts and the operations room to be on alert to resolve emergencies.

Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel has warned that some clandestine groups would attempt to destabilize the country ahead of the trials of suspects in the 2005 Valentine’s Day assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

The U.N.-backed Special Tribunal for Lebanon has scheduled Jan. 16, 2014 as the date for the start of trials of four Hezbollah members indicted in Hariri’s killing.

Judges at the STL also ordered Friday that a fifth Hezbollah suspect accused of taking part in the Hariri assassination be tried in absentia, since Hasan Merhi “has absconded or otherwise cannot be found.”

The minister additionally warned of the next six months, which will see critical issues including the upcoming presidential elections that could have repercussions on security and stability.

Meanwhile, the Internal Security Forces said Saturday that it increased the number of its personnel by 250 for traffic control officers, Beirut police, embassy security, and state institutions.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on December 23, 2013, on page 3.
Home Lebanon News

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus

Baabda 2014
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Wednesday, April 23, 2014
View all view all
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Israel shows Zionism’s true colors
Michael Young
Michael Young
For Christians, blessed are the dividers
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
An Iran deal is close, but we’re not there yet
View all view all
Click to View Articles
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS