Lebanese police arrest two over Beirut attack plot

Lebanese police arrest two over Beirut attack plot
Two men were arrested in Lebanon over plans to carry out a suicide attack in central Beirut, security services have said.
2 min read
09 February, 2017
Lebanon's security services claim to have prevented several attacks in recent months [AFP]

Lebanese security forces arrested two alleged members of a "terrorist group" suspected of planning a suicide attack in central Beirut, security services said on Wednesday.

The suspects, a Lebanese and a Palestinian, were detained for "belonging to a terrorist group", the General Security force said in a statement.

It did not say when they were taken into custody.

Al-Akhbar newspaper reported on Tuesday that General Security had thwarted an attack by the Islamic State group in central Beirut, which it said had recruited a Lebanese official in charge of security cameras in the district.

In its statement on Wednesday, General Security said the Lebanese suspect had "confessed that he monitored the movements and addresses of political figures and their convoys crossing the city centre".

He had worked with the Palestinian to plan a suicide attack in the centre of the Lebanese capital, it said.

Prime Minister Saad Hariri is a prominent resident of the area. His father, former prime minister Rafiq, was assassinated with a massive car bomb in downtown Beirut in 2005.

Lebanon's security services claim to have prevented several attacks in recent months.

In January, soldiers arrested a would-be suicide bomber inside a crowded coffee shop in the upscale Hamra neighbourhood in west Beirut.

The man was injured during the arrest, with several soldiers holding him down to ensure he was not able to detonate the belt, according to a statement by the army.

The country has been hit by several suicide bombings linked to jihadist groups fighting in neighbouring Syria since war broke out there in 2011.

Some of the most deadly attacks took place in strongholds of Hizballah, the Shia movement that is fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces.

The casualties in the blasts have been almost exclusively civilians.

The Hamra neighbourhood, a district known for shopping and nightlife, has not previously been hit by an attack.

But in June 2016, the army said it had arrested jihadists from the Islamic State group planning attacks against busy areas, including Hamra.

The last attack carried out in Lebanon was in November 2015.

Agencies contributed to this report.
 
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