TRIPOLI/BEIRUT: Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr issued Saturday an arrest warrant for Youssef Diab, a suspect in the deadly Tripoli bombings and whose apprehension a day earlier raised tensions in the northern city.
Saqr issued arrest warrants for three people including Diab, a judicial source told The Daily Star, adding that the arrest of the suspect by the Internal Security Forces Information Branch was approved by the state prosecutor.
The other two were identified as Anis Hamzeh and Ali Jaafar.
Tensions ran high in the city Friday after the arrest of Diab who is a member of the predominantly Alawite Arab Democratic Party from Jabal Mohsen and a suspect in the August twin car bombings in Tripoli that killed 47 people.
Three people have been arrested over their involvement in the explosions. One has been released for lack of evidence against him.
Head of General Security Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim earlier Saturday inspected checkpoints set up by the agency in the northern city as part of the government’s security plan to protect Tripoli.
Ibrahim followed up on the working conditions of personnel and gave orders to his officers to remain in complete readiness to address security concerns in the city in coordination with the other security agencies involved.
Until late Friday, intermittent sniper fire was heard in Tripoli and a rocket-propelled grenade fell near Syria Street, the road separating the mainly Alawite Jabal Mohsen neighborhood from its rival the Sunni-dominated Bab al-Tabbaneh.
The two neighborhoods have engaged in deadly clashes on several occasions since the crisis in Syria began in 2011. Jabal Mohsen maintains a strong support base for President Bashar Assad while Bab al-Tabbaneh has voiced support for the rebels.
An official from the Arab Democratic Party, Ali Feddah, criticized Saturday the arrest of Diab, alleging that Bab al-Tabbaneh residents fired at Jabal Mohsen minutes after the apprehension.
“The way the security agency came and arrested Diab who is only 18 was more like a militia than a government-run force,” Feddah told a local television station, claiming ISF personnel verbally attacked Diab and beat him before apprehending him.
“In addition to that, arresting this man from Jabal Mohsen is like targeting an entire sect,” he added.
A security source told The Daily Star that residents from Jabal Mohsen allegedly fired at the Lebanese Army following the arrest, wounding a soldier and prompting the latter to return fire.
Two people were also wounded by sniper fire in the city.
The Lebanese Army initiated contacts with Tripoli figures and politicians in order to restore calm and began patrolling the area to prevent further escalation.
The unrest came two weeks after the caretaker government launched the first phase of a security plan for Tripoli to preserve security and protect residents.
The initial phase included the deployment of Army, ISF and General Security personnel and the erecting of checkpoints at the entrance of the city and around known hot spots.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati followed up on the situation in Tripoli with caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel as well as a number of security chiefs, his office said.
Mikati also spoke to caretaker Justice Minister Shakib Qortbawi about the ongoing investigation with Diab.