Lebanese Security Forces Storm Roumieh Prison

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People wait outside Lebanon largest prison facility, Roumieh, in an undated photo. Photo: Al-Akhbar/Haitham Moussawi

Published Monday, January 12, 2015

Lebanese Internal Security Forces (ISF) stormed a unit of the country's largest prison where Islamist militants are detained on Monday, security sources said, as authorities searched for those responsible for a double suicide attack in the northern city of Tripoli on Saturday.

Inmates torched mattresses to protest the move, but there were no injuries. The sources said police were searching for "forbidden items" in Building B of Roumieh prison, where Islamist militants are held.

Interior Minister Nouhad al-Machnouk headed to Roumieh east of Beirut early on Monday, and told Reuters the crackdown came after intelligence showed some of the inmates were connected to the bombings, which killed eight.

"We made sure of their involvement in the bombings… through monitoring their communications," he said, adding that suspects would be moved to a separate section of the prison.

Television footage showed police entering and searching prisoners' rooms and smoke rising from the prison.

According to Lebanon's National News Agency (NNA), the ISF said in a statement on Monday that “a number of prisoners” were transported from Building B to Building D.

“Some detainees started fire in protest against the security measures adopted by elements in charge of the prison's security. However, the security situation is under control and no injuries have occurred," ISF added.

Roumieh was originally built to hold about 1,500 inmates, but is now crammed with about 3,700. Roumieh holds many high profile convicts and government officials have previously warned that it is a hotbed for extremism.

In September, militants in Qalamoun area, who abducted an estimated 29 Lebanese soldiers and ISF members, negotiated with the Lebanese government for the release of Islamist prisoners from Roumieh. The negotiations have not reached any tangible results.

"As a result of the deterioration of security in Lebanon, you will hear about surprises regarding the fate of the prisoners with us," the Islamist al-Nusra Front group said on its Twitter account on Monday.

The group had previously claimed responsibility for Saturday's double suicide attack on a café in the Jabal Mohsen district of Lebanon's second biggest city, Tripoli.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)


"it is a hot bed for extremism"
some people have not got a clue that life exists, let alone that they are alive
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