Lebanon forces kill 'militants', arrest cleric

2015-04-10 15:34

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Tripoli - Lebanese security forces killed two suspected Islamist militants and arrested an extremist cleric during a shootout in the north of the country, a security official said on Friday.

"An ambush was planned for a number of wanted men after monitoring their movements in Tripoli," a northern port city, the official told AFP.

He said that during the operation late on Thursday, the Internal Security Forces (ISF) intercepted two cars, and the ensuing exchange of fire killed militants Osama Mansour, nicknamed "Abu Omar", and Ahmad Nazer.

Both men had been wanted for taking part in clashes with the army in Tripoli in October 2014 and were suspected of links to jihadist organisations in Syria.

After the shootout, the ISF arrested Sheikh Khaled Hoblos, an extremist cleric accused of heading an anti-army militia based in the town of Bhannin, a few kilometres north of Tripoli.

Deadly rounds of fighting

A second man in the same car was also arrested with Hoblos.

The official said two ISF members were "severely wounded" in the exchange of fire.

A statement published by the ISF confirmed the details of the incident and added that Mansour "had in his possession an explosive belt that a military expert dismantled".

Early on Friday, the army carried out patrols in Tripoli and took up positions in the Sunni-majority neighbourhood of Bab el-Tebbaneh.

Protestors were seen throwing rocks at the soldiers, who fired into the air to disperse them.

The army launched a security plan in April 2014 in an effort to stabilise Tripoli, which has seen deadly rounds of fighting between Sunni residents who support the Syrian uprising next door and pro-regime Alawite residents.

Sunni gunmen in the city have often also clashed with the army.

In October 2014, 11 soldiers were killed when clashes erupted following the arrest of a Lebanese man accused of recruiting fighters for jihadist groups in Syria.

Read more on:    lebanon

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