BEIRUT: The Lebanese Army enforced strict security measures around the Dbayieh Palestinian refugee camp north of Beirut, as police continued to raid more hotels Thursday, one day after a suicide bomber detonated his explosive belt to evade arrest during a hotel room bust.
Security forces have launched a preemptive crackdown on hotels in the country in search of militant suspects after several suicide bombers had taken refuge in the capital’s hotels prior to their attacks, a security source told The Daily Star.
Authorities are expected to design a set of security measures for hotels to prevent militants from entering the buildings and posing a danger to guests and employees.
Security and judicial sources told The Daily Star that the Army is taking unprecedented measures at the entrances and around the Dbayieh refugee camp in line with a crackdown on suspected terror cells. The camps themselves are off-limits to Lebanese authorities and policed by armed Palestinian factions.
Meanwhile Internal Security Forces personnel continued to raid hotels to dismantle suspected terrorist cells.
Sources said around midday ISF Information Branch personnel, wearing bullet-proof vests, raided the Ramada Plaza, located diagonally across from the Duroy Hotel in the Beirut neighborhood of Raouche, the site of Wednesday’s suicide bombing.
Security stationed outside the Ramada Plaza said some explosive material had been discovered inside the hotel and that they would be removed gradually. The hotel premises were cordoned off, preventing reporters from entering.
At least two individuals were arrested and police are still in search for an unidentified woman. It is unclear where the latter suspect was staying at the hotel.
“They are checking every room,” said one guest, who was leaving Ramada Plaza. The hotel management had urged guests to check out, anticipating the raids.
Sources said the security forces had also raided the Golden Tulip Galleria Hotel in the Jnah neighborhood of Beirut, arresting a Saudi and Syrian national.
Wednesday's suicide bomber Saudi national Abdul-Rahman al-Thawani, and his partner Abdul Rahman al-Shnifi had been caught in a raid by police at Duroy Hotel before the former detonated his explosive belt. General Security had learned the pair had made reservations at more than one hotel, which prompted the raid.
The pair had arrived at Beirut's airport on June 11 and made reservations at two hotels with check out dates set for mid-July, according to security sources.
The authorities are still on the hunt for a Syrian national believed to be in charge of the duo and a member of Liwa al-Tawheed, as armed group involved in the Syrian civil war.
General Security head Maj. Gen. Abbas Ibrahim stressed that security forces were working hand-in-hand with the Lebanese Army and the Internal Security Forces to crack down on terrorism.
"General Security is exerting optimal efforts and doing everything it can to crach down on terrorist cases, in coordination with the security agencies," he told a local television channel.