Arrests in Beirut: Beirut Bombing Arrests
Published: November 15, 2015
Arrests in Beirut: Beirut Bombing Arrests, Lebanese security forces have arrested nine people, most of them Syrian nationals, over last week’s twin bombings in Beirut that killed 44 people, the interior minister said.
“Until now 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 bombings in a busy residential and commercial area that is a stronghold for Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah were claimed by the Islamic State (IS) militant group, which has also claimed the coordinated Paris attacks.
“The whole suicide bombing network and its supporters were arrested in the 48 hours following the explosion,” Mr Mashnuq said.
The explosions were the first attacks in more than a year to target a Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon, as the Iran-backed group steps up its involvement in the war in neighbouring Syria.
Mr Mashnuq 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 had been used to prepare the explosive belts.
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.
Lebanon’s Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah also said Syrian and Lebanese detainees were arrested on suspicion of being involved in the bombings, which he squarely blamed on IS.
Mr Nasrallah warned his followers of a backlash against ordinary Syrians in the aftermath of the bombings, saying the goal of radical Islamist Sunni fundamentalists, who consider Shiites to be heretics, was to sow discord among Sunnis and Shiites.
The blasts occurred almost simultaneously late on Thursday (local time) and struck a Shiite community centre and a nearby bakery in the commercial and residential area of Borj al-Barajneh, security sources said.
A closely guarded Hezbollah-run hospital is also nearby.
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