Lebanon News

Army arrests six for transporting weapons, gear

File - Lebanese army soldiers man a checkpoint following tensions after the killing of four Lebanese men in Bekaa, June 16, 2013. (REUTERS/Rami Bleibel)

HERMEL, Lebanon: The Army arrested six individuals of various nationalities in the Bekaa Valley Sunday, confiscating weapons and uniforms in their possession bearing Islamist slogans, security sources told The Daily Star.

In the first incident, the Army arrested the driver of a pickup truck carrying arms at a checkpoint in the Bekaa town of Arsal.

“One of the Army checkpoints in Arsal stopped a pickup truck this morning loaded with weapons, light ammunition, hand grenades and two devices used to detonate bombs from a distance as well as special clothes,” an Army statement said.

The Army added that it had arrested a number of individuals for involvement along with the truck driver.

Several hours later, an Army Intelligence patrol detained five people in the Baalbek village of Maqneh on the Baalbek-Hermel highway.

The five were in a Toyota vehicle, from which the Army confiscated headbands bearing Islamic slogans and standardized military uniforms, said the sources, requesting anonymity.

The sources identified the detainees as Osama Mansour and Ahmad Hammad from north Lebanon, Syrian national Tammam Ghannoum and Palestinians Baker Ismail and Mohammad Masri. The sources said the five came from north Lebanon and were heading to Syria.

The suspects were handed over to the relevant authorities, as were the confiscated items. The suspects were later interrogated under the supervision of the judiciary, the Army said.

Separately, the Army dismantled a small bomb Saturday night near the Higher Shiite Council in the Beirut southern suburb of Ghobeiri, a security source told The Daily Star.The bomb was found along the old airport road between a KFC restaurant and the headquarters of the council, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The incident came days after a car bomb exploded in the pro-Hezbollah neighborhood of Bir al-Abed, wounding over 50 people.

The bombing prompted Hezbollah to beef up its security measures in the Beirut southern suburbs and other areas where it has influence.

The explosion came weeks after the Syrian opposition threatened to target Hezbollah in retaliation for its fighting alongside the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Hezbollah played a major role in driving the rebels out of the strategic Syrian town of Qusair last month.

Although an independent rebel group claimed responsibility for the Bir al-Abed attack, a spokesperson from the Free Syrian Army denied involvement.

Political sources told The Daily Star last week that militant cells had been established in Lebanon and were planning attacks against Hezbollah.

In May, two rockets slammed into the Beirut southern suburb of Shiyah, a stronghold of Amal and Hezbollah, wounding several people. The rocket attack came few hours after Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah confirmed his party’s heavy involvement in Syria’s war.

Another two rockets believed to be aimed at the southern suburbs missed their targets in June after being fired in Kesrouan.

Syrian rebels have also fired salvos of rockets over the past months on Hermel and Baalbek in the Bekaa Valley, also a stronghold of Hezbollah.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on July 15, 2013, on page 1.




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