BEIRUT: A gathering of state and security officials at the residence of Prime Minister Najib Mikati in Tripoli Saturday called for boosting security measures in the northern coastal city as a shaky truce held after days of clashes last week led to the killing of 11 people and the wounding of scores more.
“Those participating agreed on the need to boost security measures in the areas of Qibbeh and Tabbaneh and Jabal Mohsen and to address the gaps in order to prevent security breaches through continuing work to remove the display of weapons and eliminating all manners of tension in all areas ... for normal life to return,” a statement following the meeting said.
The meeting at Mikati’s residence included Tripoli ministers Ahmad Karami, Faisal Karami, Mohammad Safadi, Tripoli MP Mohammad Qabbara, Director of Lebanon’s Army Intelligence in the north Brig. Gen Amer al-Hasan as well as the head of the Tripoli’s gendarmerie, Brig. Gen. Bassam Ayoubi.
“Those participating stressed that the army and the Internal Security Forces have clear instructions to control the security situation and to boost the deployment in order to create a positive environment,” the statement added.
Clashes erupted last week between the rival neighborhoods of Bab al-Tabbaneh, residents of which oppose Syrian President Bashar Assad, and Jabal Mohsen, residents of which support Assad, in Tripoli which have left at least 11 people dead and over 100 wounded.
The Lebanese Army, which was deployed to the area Tuesday, brought an end to the fighting and a shaky truce has been enforced since then.
Meanwhile, in the Tabbaneh area, Civil Defense teams put out a fire at an office behind the Nasseri Mosque. An investigation into the incident is under way.
Despite the relative calm in Tripoli, concerns were raised Saturday that tensions could shift further north with announcements by the Future Movement and the Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party that they would conduct separate rallies in Halba, Akkar, Sunday to commemorate the killing of their supporters during clashes in 2008.
At least 11 supporters of the SSNP and six supporters of the Future Movement were killed in Halba on May 10, 2008. The incident, regarded by the SSNP as a “massacre,” was linked to street fighting in Beirut between pro- and anti-government gunmen that erupted on May 7 over a Cabinet decision to dismantle Hezbollah’s telecommunications network.
Speaking to The Daily Star, Future Movement MP Khaled Daher said roads would not be blocked and that authorities would be present to monitor the rallies.