Lebanese forces arrest five militants plotting attack on tourists

Published June 30th, 2016 - 12:59 GMT
Lebanese soldiers on patrol in al-Qaa, after a series of deadly suicide bombings in the Christian town. (AFP/Stringer)
Lebanese soldiers on patrol in al-Qaa, after a series of deadly suicide bombings in the Christian town. (AFP/Stringer)

The Lebanese army said on Thursday that it has arrested five militants, including the ringleader of a cell that was plotting large-scale attacks in Lebanon.

“The military intelligence foiled two terrorist attacks that ISIS was plotting,” the army’s General Command said in a communique.

The communique said the militants plotted “to target a huge tourism site and a heavily-populated area.”

“Five terrorists, including the (plot’s) mastermind, were arrested,” said the communique, adding the suspects also admitted to targeting the army in previous attacks.

“The investigation is ongoing under the supervision of the judiciary,” it added.

The military did not specify the location of the expected targets or where the arrests took place.

The arrest of the militants came hard on the heels of multiple suicide bombings that rattled the village of al-Qaa in the eastern Bekaa Valley.

Five people were killed and 30 others wounded when several suicide bombers attacked the village on Monday.

Qaa and the nearby Ras Baalbek are the only two villages with a Christian majority in the predominantly Shia Hermel region.

The army’s announcement also followed reports circulated on social media that shopping malls, restaurants and the Casino du Liban are the possible targets of Daesh plots despite the denial of the Interior Ministry, the Syndicate of Restaurant Owners and the Casino’s management.

Since Monday’s attacks, the military has been carrying our raids in different areas, arresting scores of Syrians for illegal entry into the country in security sweeps.

The army said on Tuesday that it has sent additional reinforcements to the village, and military units launched large scale raids and search operations in the village and its surroundings in search for suspicious individuals.

Major religious and cultural events were also postponed this week over fears that Daesh would target them.

Editor's note: This article has been edited from the original. 

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