Naharnet

Report: Security Forces Searching for 5 Suicide Bombers in Arsal, Ain el-Hilweh

Security forces have stepped up in recent days their security precautions in anticipation of threats and attacks, reported al-Akhbar newspaper on Saturday.

It said that they suspect the presence of five would-be suicide bombers in the northeastern border town of Arsal and the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Hilweh in the southern city of Sidon.

The would-be bombers include four Lebanese and a Moroccan, added the daily.

Meanwhile, tensions were high in Arsal and its outskirts given the “suspicious activity of terrorist groups in the area,” reported As Safir newspaper on Saturday.

A security source described the situation as “very worrisome.”

“The actions of the terrorists indicate that they are planning something, which the army has taken into consideration,” they added.

The army has in recent days been heavily shelling the areas in Arsal's outskirts and Ras Baalbek were the gunmen are gathered.

Moreover, said the source, military and security forces had carried out a number of raids in search of terrorists in light of their thwarting of a scheme to set up an “Islamic State emirate” in the western Bekaa region, reported As Safir.

A number of suspects linked to terrorist groups have been arrested.

In a related development, As Safir said that the finishing touches to a security plan set to be adopted in the northern Bekaa are being complete.

The plan was devised in coordination with military and security agencies and will likely be implemented early next week, an official source told the daily.

The government had adopted and implemented in 2014 security plans in Beirut, the northern city of Tripoli, and Akkar.

A number of wanted suspects and gunmen have been arrested in the crackdown, but a number of others remain at large.

Meanwhile, the judicial council issued on Friday in absentia rulings against 22 suspects linked to the 2007 Nahr al-Bared clashes, reported the daily An Nahar on Saturday.

The fugitives have been sentenced to death and charged with belonging to the Fatah al-Islam group and carrying out terrorist attacks.

The army was engaged between May and September 2007 in clashes with fighters from the Fatah al-Islam group that had taken up the northern Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr al-Bared as its base.

Scores of soldiers and Islamists were killed in the unrest.

Lebanon began facing a growing threat of terrorism when the Islamic State extremist group along with Syria's al-Qaida affiliate, al-Nusra Front, established footholds in remote mountains along the country's remote eastern border.

Militants from al-Nusra Front and the IS already carried out a cross-border raid in Arsal in August and took with them hostages from the army and police following deadly gunbattles with troops.

Lebanon has been facing almost daily incursions by terrorists along its eastern border.

The rise of terrorists led to jihadi recruitment in impoverished Sunni areas of northern Lebanon. Many extremists from the area have clashed with the Lebanese army and carried out suicide attacks both inside and outside Lebanon.

The growing resentment came after Hizbullah sent its fighters to Syria to help President Bashar Assad against the rebels seeking to topple him.

M.T.


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