BEIRUT — Caretaker Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi announced on Tuesday a "sustainable" security plan had been devised for North Lebanon, following two deadly shootings in Tripoli that raised fears of more violence, the state-run National News Agency reported.
The announcement came after a scheduled meeting with the Central Security Council, a body chaired by Mawlawi.
The public prosecution office will “legitimize and facilitate [the ministry’s] work in implementing the security plan,” Mawlawi added, saying that security is not “a consensual matter, but is rather imposed" on the public. However, Mawlawi did not disclose any details on the new security plan to safeguard “the safety of its implementation.”
The caretaker interior minister also said that his ministry is “seriously following what is happening in Tripoli” following Friday’s shooting that left four people dead. He also plans to “increase military and security measures” in the city. Finally, Mawlawi said that security agencies are monitoring all areas with “low security” in Tripoli.
Deadly armed clashes have been on the rise in Lebanon’s north amid a deepening economic crisis that has impacted everyday people.
On Friday, clashes at a phone shop in Tripoli’s al-Tal neighborhood killed four people, including two brothers and the shop’s owner. Another person was left injured. The assailants reportedly used military-grade weapons.
According to a Lebanese Army statement, the altercation allegedly began when a man “with a criminal and terrorist background” arrived at the cell phone store by motorcycle alongside three other individuals. The men then opened fire and armed clashes between the two sides ensued, reportedly leaving four people dead: the convicted felon, the store owner and two brothers who were employees in the store.
Large quantities of money reportedly found in the shop suggest that the owner may be “a member of the cells financing armed groups in the city,” a Tripoli security source told L’Orient-Le Jour on condition of anonymity, due to the sensitivity of the topic. The owner of the store, M.K., is from the Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen in the northern city. There is a bitter rivalry between Jabal Mohsen and the nearby predominantly Sunni Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood.
“Groups are trying to take advantage of the difficult situation in Lebanon to destroy what remains of the country’s stability,” one former security official told L’Orient-Le Jour.
This incident raised fears of a new round of clashes between the rival neighborhoods of Jabal Mohsen and Bab al-Tabbaneh. The narrative in political circles, however, is more nuanced.
'Absence of a state' in the north?
On Monday evening, another armed clash, reportedly between family members, also left one person dead in Tripoli's Abi Samra neighborhood.
Security forces arrived at the scene and opened an investigation into the incident, an army spokesperson said. Authorities are currently working to track down the shooter, who allegedly killed his relative.
According to our correspondents in the region, the suspect allegedly shot his pregnant sister’s husband. Following the shooting, the wounded man was transported to a nearby hospital, where he died shortly afterward.
“Today in Tripoli, the absence of a state is flagrant, to the point that a simple disagreement with a driver can cost you your life,” Khaldoun Sharif, a political scientist from the northern city, told L’Orient-Le Jour, amid the recent spate of violence.