BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities released 13 people detained in a police raid Friday for lack of evidence, leaving four others suspected of having links to terrorist groups in detention, a high-ranking judicial source said Saturday.
"Between last night and this morning, we only have a Lebanese and three others of Arab nationalities in detention,” the source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Daily Star.
Police are interrogating the four remaining suspects and the judiciary will make a decision later in the day, the source said.
On Friday morning after receiving a tip-off that a group of Islamists planning an assassination plot against Speaker Nabih Berri were in a Beirut hotel, a joint raid by police intelligence and General Security resulted in the apprehension of 17 people.
Berri was to speak during a conference at UNESCO Friday morning. Western intelligence informed security agencies in Lebanon of an imminent terrorist attack against a gathering, prompting the speaker to cancel the event altogether, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk has said.
Hours later, a suicide car bombing targeted a police checkpoint in east Lebanon, killing a 49-year-old officer and wounding 32 other people. Authorities say the target of the attack was a location in Beirut.
The bombing and the security measures throughout the day Friday heightened fears of a return to the series of car bombing attack that hit Lebanon earlier this year and last year.
During an urgent security meeting late Friday, Prime Minister Tammam Salam said Lebanese security forces would continue implementing a nationwide security plan that curbed the rise of terrorism in the country for a three-month period.
The shadowy group Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade claimed responsibility for the bombing, saying they could not “reach their target today but they will do so later.”