BEIRUT: Security forces backed by armored vehicles deployed heavily in the northern city of Tripoli Friday, setting up checkpoints, and checking identities in the search for wanted suspects, as the Army raided Tripoli's Government Hospital arresting one suspect, security sources told The Daily Star.
They said a suspect who was only identified by his initials was apprehended at the hospital, while a thorough security check on papers and vehicles is being conducted at road blocks erected in different parts of the city in search for others.
Earlier Friday, tensions ran high as residents in Jabal Mohsen blocked a road connecting their neighborhood to Bab al-Tabbaneh, demanding the release of detainees held for involvement in clashes.
Some 85 people gathered near the vital street, calling on security and judicial authorities to release 60 detainees who were apprehended during the Army-led crackdown in the restive city.
The protest came a day after residents in the Sunni-dominated Bab al-Tabbaneh carried out a similar protest, blocking roads leading to the Abu Ali roundabout with rocks, trash cans and tires.
The roundabout was still blocked as of Friday, while the sounds of stun grenades being tossed in the Abu Ali river raised fears that the calm which has prevailed for three months in the city could be shattered at any moment.
Three hunger-striking inmates from Roumieh prison were taken to hospital Thursday, as their supporters used tents, garbage bins and trucks to blockade roads at the Abu Ali roundabout and on the Maaloula-Minyeh route, threatening to escalate their action if detainees held over alleged involvement in the Tripoli clashes earlier this year were not released.
Earlier this week, residents blocked several roads in north Lebanon following news that the health of a militia leader in Roumieh prison had deteriorated. Ziad Allouki, a former militia commander in the Tripoli neighborhood of Bab al-Tabbaneh, was transferred to Hayat Hospital after suffering from fatigue.
Defense Minister Ashraf Rifi said in remarks published Friday that Bab al-Tabbaneh residents were angered by the release of two Jabal Mohsen detainees this week, saying the demands by the Sunni community were righteous.
Bab al-Tabbaneh residents have protested what they said were the arbitrary detentions targeting the Sunni community, saying security forces are discriminating against and treating them differently than their Alawite neighbors in Jabal Mohsen.
On April 1 the Lebanese Army, along with security forces, launched a security plan to restore law and order to the city. The plan resulted in the arrest of dozens of gunmen and militia commanders from both Bab al-Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen, and put an end to deadly clashes between the two neighborhoods that were mostly linked to the crisis in Syria.