Ain el-Helweh bomb defused in assassination attempt on Palestinian strongman

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Al-Akhbar Management

Published Thursday, March 22, 2012

A large explosive device was found and dismantled on Wednesday in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain el-Helweh in an apparent assassination attempt on a key Palestinian figure.

The bomb, which weighed nearly 30kg, was placed in a paint bucket near the the house of the commander-in-chief of an armed faction of the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), Mahmoud Issa, who is known as "el-Lino."

A man collecting garbage in the early hours of the morning found the heavy bucket near the house and asked el-Lino's bodyguards to help him lift it. The men then discovered that the bucket contained highly explosive TNT connected with wires to a cellphone.

The bucket was then moved away from the residential area where a bomb disposal expert from the armed faction dismantled the device which was set to explode at 2:00pm.

El-Lino said that targeting him was "targeting the entire people of the camp," and added that he had "information on the operation."

He also said that the individual who placed the bomb near his house will be caught since el-Lino had installed surveillance cameras in that area.

The Lebanese army had cordoned off Ain el-Helweh, located near the southern city of Sidon, in pursuit of fugitive Salafi cell leader Tawfiq Taha, who is said to be hiding in the refugee camp.

But the army has no presence inside the camp, which is run by armed Palestinian factions.

Taha is accused of plotting terrorist attacks against army bases in the country, and had allegedly recruited an extremist cell within the army.

Right-wing Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea called on the army to invade the camp in order to recapture the fugitive, and disarm Palestinian factions.

The Lebanese Forces has a tense history with Palestinian groups in the country, having carried out its own massacre of Palestinians in Sabra and Shatila in 1982.

(Al-Akhbar - Khaled al-Ghorabi contributed to this report)

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