Le­banon ar­rests nine over Beirut bomb­ings

Min­is­ter hints fur­ther at­tacks ex­pected

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

BEIRUT: Le­banon has ar­rested nine peo­ple, mostly Syr­i­ans, over last week’s Beirut bomb­ings that killed 44 peo­ple, an at­tack whose orig­i­nal tar­get was a hos­pi­tal, the in­te­rior min­is­ter said yes­ter­day. “The de­tained in­clude seven Syr­i­ans and two Le­banese, one of them a (would-be) sui­cide bomber and the other a traf­ficker who smug­gled them across the border from Syria,” In­te­rior Min­is­ter Nuhad Mash­nuq said in a tele­vised press con­fer­ence.

The Is­lamic State (IS) ji­hadist group claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for Thurs­day’s at­tacks, which hit a busy shop­ping street in Burj al-Bara­jneh, a sub­urb where the Shi­ite move­ment Hezbol­lah is pop­u­lar. “The whole sui­cide bomb­ing net­work and its supporters were ar­rested in the 48 hours fol­low­ing the explosion,” Mash­nuq said, call­ing the ar­rests “an ex­tra­or­di­nary achieve­ment”. He said the Syr­i­ans were de­tained in a Pales­tinian refugee camp lo­cated in Burj al-Bara­jneh and a flat in the cap­i­tal’s east­ern dis­trict of Ashrafieh that had been used to pre­pare the ex­plo­sive belts.

Se­cu­rity forces ar­rested the Le­banese wouldbe sui­cide at­tacker in the north­ern port city of Tripoli af­ter he had failed to det­o­nate his sui­cide belt, Mash­nuq said. The ini­tial plan was ap­par­ently to send five sui­cide bombers to a hos­pi­tal in the neigh­bour­hood, he said, but heavy se­cu­rity forced them to change the tar­get to a densely pop­u­lated area.

‘It won’t be the Last’

Mash­nuq hinted that he ex­pected fur­ther at­tacks: “When they send five sui­cide at­tack­ers to one place, it means... it won’t be the last.” The blood­shed in Beirut came a day be­fore a string of bomb and gun at­tacks in the French cap­i­tal, also claimed by IS, that left at least 129 dead and more than 350 peo­ple wounded. The blasts were the first to tar­get a Hezbol­lah-dom­i­nated neigh­bour­hood since mid-2014, af­ter a string of such at­tacks rocked the cap­i­tal in 2013 and 2014. Those ex­plo­sions were os­ten­si­bly in re­venge for Hezbol­lah’s mil­i­tary sup­port of regime forces in neigh­bour­ing Syria’s civil war.

Most of them were claimed by a va­ri­ety of Sunni ex­trem­ist groups, in­clud­ing one in Jan­uary 2014 by the Is­lamic State of Iraq and the Le­vant, which later be­came IS. But Thurs­day’s was the largest IS at­tack ever in Le­banon, and among the dead­li­est bomb­ings to hit the volatile coun­try in decades. It sparked an out­pour­ing of sym­pa­thy for the vic­tims, with peo­ple shar­ing pho­to­graphs of those killed on so­cial me­dia ac­counts.

One vic­tim, Adel Tar­mous, was hailed as a hero in the news­pa­pers for hav­ing pre­vented a bomber from en­ter­ing a Shi­ite place of wor­ship. In a tele­vised ad­dress Satur­day, Hezbol­lah chief Has­san Nas­ral­lah urged supporters not to re­tal­i­ate against the over one mil­lion Syr­ian refugees in Le­banon. — AFP

BEIRUT: Young peo­ple prac­tice yoga in Beirut’s Mar­tyrs Square in the heart of the Le­banese cap­i­tal yes­ter­day. The spe­cial 108 Sun Salu­ta­tions event was aimed to help re­store prana (pos­i­tive en­ergy) and raise con­scious­ness to­wards har­mony, or­ga­niz­ers said. — AFP

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