The Lebanese army said it had foiled attacks planned by the Islamic State jihadist group on a tourist site and a crowded area, arresting five “terrorists”.
The famed Casino du Liban was among the targets, a military official told AFP.
“Military intelligence services have foiled two terrorist operations prepared by Daesh that would have targeted an important tourism site and a crowded area,” the army said in a statement, using an Arabic name for IS.
It was not clear when the arrests took place, but the military official said the attacks were to have been carried out “10 days ago”.
They would have targeted “the Casino du Liban as well as a crowded area, like a shopping centre, the southern suburbs of Beirut or indeed the (downtown) neighbourhoods of Hamra or Ashrafiyeh”, the official said.
The five arrested included the alleged mastermind of the attacks, the army said.
“They admitted having previously carried out terrorist attacks against the army,” it said.
Lebanon has been repeatedly shaken by attacks linked with the war in neighbouring Syria, where Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah is fighting in support of President Bashar al-Assad.
On Monday, five people were killed when four suicide bombers attacked a predominantly Christian village near the border with Syria.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Monday’s attacks but they bore the hallmarks of jihadist organisations like IS or Al-Qaeda.
Army seized weapons and explosives
In a related security development the Lebanese army seized weapons and explosives during a number of raids in a northeastern border region on Thursday, National News Agency reported.
The NNA said soldiers found the equipment during a raid on houses in Wadi Aata, an area surrounding the town of Arsal, without giving further details.
Other local media reported that the army found a bomb belt and some ammunition at the house of a man from Arsal’s Fliti family, currently in custody with General Security.
Hundreds of ISIS and Nusra Front militants have been holed up on the rugged outskirts of Arsal for about two years. Their hideouts are pounded by the Lebanese military on a nearly daily basis to keep them at bay.
Lebanon has been on high alert since Monday when multiple suicide bombings targeted Al-Qaa, which lies only a few kilometers away from the Syrian border and 29 km north of Arsal, killing five people and wounding over 30 others.
Nobody has claimed responsibility for the attacks, which happened at dawn and in the evening.