Lebanon tasks army with restoring Tripoli security

BEIRUT – The Lebanese government on Thursday tasked the army with restoring law and order to the restive city of Tripoli, which in recent weeks has been shaken by sectarian violence.

"The government decided to assign the army and security forces with implementing a plan to maintain security in Tripoli," Information Minister Ramzi Joreige said following a cabinet meeting.

"The plan will include a ban on the use of arms," Joreige said, adding that, under the plan, the army would seize arms depots in both Sunni and Alawite parts of the city.

Speaking at Thursday's cabinet meeting, President Michel Suleiman said the current security situation in Tripoli – Lebanon's second largest city – required "radical solutions."

On Thursday, a Lebanese soldier was shot dead in the city by unknown assailants.

Within the last two weeks, at least 32 people have been killed in the latest round of sectarian violence between Tripoli's Alawite-majority Jabal Mohsen neighborhood and the Sunni-majority Bab al-Tabbaneh district.

Some 145 people, meanwhile, have been injured in the unrest.

The recent bloodletting is only the latest in a pattern of violence that has seen 20 separate clashes between the two rival neighborhoods within the last six years.

Since 2008, almost 200 people have been killed and hundreds injured in violent confrontations between armed residents from the two districts, according to an informal survey by Anadolu Agency.

The sectarian violence was initially prompted by the 2005 assassination of late Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri.

While Syria's Alawite regime had been accused of standing behind the Hariri assassination, the allegation has never been proven.

The ongoing conflict in next-door Syria, meanwhile, has served to fuel Lebanon's sectarian tensions.

Copyright © 2014 Anadolu Agency