Lebanon News

Car bomb provider killed in Yabroud, Syria

The center for filling gas is seen closed in Bir Hasan, Sunday, March 2, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)

BEIRUT: A man wanted for helping orchestrate a car bomb plot involving a female terrorism suspect has been killed in Yabroud, a province of Syria where Hezbollah is fighting alongside the regime, a security source told The Daily Star.

Though his body has not yet been returned, funeral prayers were carried out in Arsal for the man, identified as Hussein Mohammad Ammoun, the source said.

Ammoun was wanted for allegedly providing an explosives-laden car that was stopped by Lebanese Military Intelligence last month on the Arsal-Labweh road in the Bekaa Valley last month.

The car was being driven by Joumana Hmeid, who was formally charged by Military Prosecutor Saqr Saqr for involvement with Al-Qaeda-linked groups.

Ammoun was buried in Yabroud, a province straddling the Lebanese-Syrian border and the site of battles between rebels and forces loyal to President Bashar Assad’s regime, including Hezbollah.

Meanwhile in the latest disruption to life in the southern suburbs linked to the Syrian crisis, two centers for filling gas canisters in the area have been ordered to shut down after authorities received information they could be targeted by terrorist attacks, a security source told The Daily Star.

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said in a statement that he ordered the centers, one in Bir Hasan and the other in Ouzai, shut down temporarily starting Monday.

“As a result of investigations with some detainees with regard to suicide attacks to assassinate Lebanese figures, primarily Speaker Nabih Berri and former Minister Wiam Wahhab, information was uncovered that suicide attacks were being planned against gas centers in Ouzai and Bir Hasan,” Machnouk said.

The gas containers will be removed from the centers.

“In order to prevent gas shortage in Beirut and the southern suburbs, Machnouk contacted centers in Shoueifat and Dora to meet the demand, knowing that one of the gas centers there belongs to MP Walid Jumblatt, who had suspended its operations,” the minister added.

Security measures were beefed up near Berri’s residence Friday in the Ain al-Tineh neighborhood of Beirut following media reports that a suicide attack was being planned to assassinate the Amal Movement leader.

Two local dailies reported that the Abdullah Azzam Brigades planned to kill the speaker by sending suicide bombers to attack his residence.

According to the reports, Mahmoud Abu Alfa, a member of the Abdullah Azam Brigades who is currently in custody, told interrogators that he was tasked by Sheikh Sirajeddine Zreiqat, a senior figure in the group, with devising a plan to attack Berri’s residence.

Abu Alfa confessed that he monitored Ain al-Tineh more than once, estimated the intensity of the explosives needed to destroy the gates of Berri’s residence, and conveyed this information to Zreiqat.

Abu Alfa and a relative, identified only as “Hasan,” were apprehended in the Beirut area of Al-Tariq al-Jadideh last month.

Both were reportedly tasked with monitoring the area around former Environment Minister Wiam Wahhab’s house in Bir Hasan.

Wahhab is an ally of Syria.

The Abdullah Azam Brigades has claimed responsibility for the two double suicide attacks that struck near the Iranian Embassy in Bir Hasan on Nov. 19 and Feb. 19.

The group has declared war on Hezbollah and Iran over their role in the Syrian war, and has carried out several attacks in predominantly Shiite areas associated with the party.

In other security incidents reported around the country, the Lebanese Army also detained Sunday a wanted man after cornering the suspect in a neighborhood of the northern city of Tripoli.

The Army opened fire in the air and launched a mortar bomb to prevent the suspect from fleeing the Tripoli neighborhood of Mankoubin, where he was later detained.

The Army briefly blocked the roads leading to the neighborhood but reopened them shortly after detaining the man.

Media reports said some residents had tried to help the suspect escape.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on March 03, 2014, on page 3.




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