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Lebanon on high alert over terror threats

  • Lebanese policemen block a road in Hamra, Friday, June 20, 2014. (The Daily Star/Mahmoud Kheir)

BEIRUT: Lebanon remained on high alert Saturday, with security forces deploying en masse outside government buildings around the country in light of rumors about an attack against state facilities.

Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces personnel were on guard outside Beirut's Grand Serail, the Interior Ministry, General Security headquarters and the residence of Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain al-Tineh, a security source told The Daily Star.

The source said authorities had information that government buildings were a target of potential attacks.

Security members are inspecting vehicles coming into buildings and have placed cement blocks outside several government offices, preventing traffic and passersby from approaching.

The measures also covered all government serails in Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli, the source said, adding that the deployments were precautionary measures.

In Tripoli's Qibbeh neighborhood, the Army surrounded the state hospital Saturday and carried out raids in search of wanted suspects.

The Army opened fire at a motorcycle that failed to comply with orders to stop near the hospital. The driver was injured and admitted to the hospital for treatment.

During an urgent security meeting late Friday, the government agreed with security and military forces to impose stricter measures to foil future terror plots and continue the implementation of the Army-led security plan.

The meeting came hours after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint in east Lebanon, killing an officer and wounding 32 other people, rattling the security plan that curbed the series of bombings in past months.

The attack coincided with a police raid on hotels in the Beirut’s district of Hamra after security agencies received information indicating that guests at Napoleon Hotel were among an Islamist group preparing to assassinate Speaker Nabih Berri.

Earlier that day, Berri canceled his appearance at a UNESCO conference, which was the suspected target of the foiled attack.

On Saturday morning, members of the ISF inspected the weekend market in Sin al-Fil and apprehended a number of people who lacked identification documents and residency permits.

In a statement issued Saturday, the ISF said they arrested 26 people wanted for several arrest warrants on charges of attacking police officers, robbery, and shooting.

The arrests took place late Friday at the Vehicle Registry Center in Majdalya, north Lebanon.

Meanwhile, the Baalbek Security Council called on municipalities and security agencies to join efforts in combating terrorism in light of the suicide attack in the Bekaa Valley’s Dahr al-Baidar area.

Baalbek-Hermel Gov. Bashir Khodr called on security forces to “ensure the safety of the main roads and subregions by intensifying patrols and keeping checkpoints active 24 hours a day.”

He called on security agencies to boost their efforts in implementing the government-commissioned security plan “and to establish a development plan to coincide with security measures to ensure an atmosphere of stability and tranquility."

The council stressed "the necessity of activating the role of municipalities to monitor the establishment of camps for displaced Syrians” calling for increased supervision and coordination with all security agencies.

It also called for "full coordination among all security forces in suppressing crimes, arresting wanted persons and in processing sensitive security files.”

 
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Summary

Lebanon remained on high alert Saturday, with security forces deploying en masse outside government buildings around the country in light of rumors about an attack against state facilities.

Lebanese Army and Internal Security Forces personnel were on guard outside Beirut's Grand Serail, the Interior Ministry, General Security headquarters and the residence of Speaker Nabih Berri in Ain al-Tineh, a security source told The Daily Star.

The meeting came hours after a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint in east Lebanon, killing an officer and wounding 32 other people, rattling the security plan that curbed the series of bombings in past months.

The Baalbek Security Council called on municipalities and security agencies to join efforts in combating terrorism in light of the suicide attack in the Bekaa Valley's Dahr al-Baidar area.


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