BEIRUT: Lebanese police have launched a countrywide operation targeting stolen vehicles in an effort to prevent further terrorist attacks.
Security sources told The Daily Star Friday the clampdown in major cities across Lebanon – particularly the capital Beirut, Halba and Tripoli in the north, Zahle and Baalbek in the east and Sidon and Nabatiyeh in the south – went into effect Thursday.
They said random checkpoints were being set up to check for proper identification.
In Beirut, the hasty roadblocks are backed by bomb-sniffing dogs, the sources added.
Stolen vehicles have been used in a spate of bombing attacks in Lebanon, mainly targeting the pro-Hezbollah southern suburbs of Beirut and the northeastern town of Hermel.
Caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel revealed following the Feb. 2 car bombing in Hermel that 400 car thefts were reported over the past six months.
The sources said the crackdown was in line with an undisclosed decision taken by the Internal Security Forces’ command.
Dozens of people have been killed and hundreds wounded in 14 car bomb attacks since May 2013, most of them linked to the crisis in neighboring Syria.
Al-Qaeda linked groups have claimed responsibility for the bombings, citing Hezbollah’s military involvement in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad.