x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Prisoners in Lebanon go on hunger strike

Prisoners held as members of a suspected Islamist group have launched a hunger strike in protest of trial delays.

Several hundred suspected members of an Islamist group involved in a deadly 15-week standoff with the Lebanese army last year have launched a prison hunger strike, a security official said today. "Detainees in Rumieh prison went on hunger strike on Monday to protest at the delay in their trials," the official said on condition of anonymity. About 300 people have been detained by Lebanese authorities for their alleged links with Fatah al-Islam, an al Qa'eda-inspired group that fought against the Lebanese army last year in a Palestinian refugee camp near the northern port city of Tripoli.

The trials are expected to begin in coming months. The army took control of the impoverished Nahr al Bared camp in September after the fierce fighting with the Islamist militants that left more than 400 people dead, including 168 Lebanese soldiers. Those being held on terrorism-related charges include nationals from Saudi Arabia, Syria, Lebanon and Palestinians. Many face a maximum sentence of death if convicted.

Rumieh prison, outside Beirut, is Lebanon's largest and was the scene of a mutiny in April which saw prisoners protesting at their conditions take seven guards hostage. * AFP