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Foiled Suicide Bombing Triggers Security Concerns in Lebanon | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Police officers man a checkpoint near Costa coffee shop in Hamra street in Beirut, Lebanon January 22, 2017. REUTERS/Jamal Saidi

Beirut- Security concerns have resurfaced in Lebanon after foiling an attempted suicide bombing Saturday night in Beirut’s Hamra Street, one of the most crowded streets that is full of restaurants and cafes.

Lebanon witnessed in the past years several explosions, yet this is the first attempt during the rule of Lebanese President Michel Aoun and the government of Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Security sources told Asharq Al-Awsat that readiness is in its highest levels and hasn’t been interrupted since New Year’s holidays due to information of possible targeting of Lebanese regions. Sources added that coordination among security bodies guaranteed the success of these efforts.

“Political consensus, which led to electing a president and forming a government, represented a major factor in fortifying Lebanon whether on the security or political level,” said the sources. On whether the Hamra bombing attempt triggered security concerns, they did not deny that security is a major concern in Lebanon but assured that security bodies are alert.

Lebanese Army reported in a statement that an attempted suicide bombing was foiled on Saturday at 10:30 in Costa Cafe, Hamra Street – the suicider is called Omar Hassan al-Assi.

“I received orders from ISIS, along with a religious fatwa from a sheikh in Palestinian refugee camp Ain al-Hilweh,” he said as reported by Lebanon 24 website. “I decided to blow up myself in the cafe to kill the greatest number of people. I drove in with a Nissan vehicle accompanied by two individuals, hiding the explosive belt under the seat,” he added.

According to Lebanon 24 website, Assi confessed that he toured Hamra Street one day before the operation and found that Costa cafe has at least 50 people in it. Then, he came to blow himself up on Saturday, not knowing that there are three intelligence vehicles watching him.

The moment he was willing to enter the cafe, security members caught him and shot him in his shoulder when he tried to blow the explosive belt.

Foiling this operation was lauded by Lebanese officials and politicians – Lebanese President Michel Aoun congratulated the forces for this proactive operation that saved the cafe from a massacre.