BEIRUT: A suicide bombing at a checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway killed one person yesterday just before a convoy passed carrying a top Lebanese security official seen as close to Hezbollah.
The attack came shortly after the security forces raided a hotel in central Beirut and detained 17 people, an official statement said, although it was unclear how the arrests were linked to the blast.
One person was killed and 32 were wounded in the Dahr Al Baydar suicide attack east of Beirut, the national News Agency (NNA) reported the health ministry as saying.
An official said the dead man was a member of the Internal Security Forces (ISF).
Friday’s attack was the first inside Lebanon since March. As war has raged in neighbouring Syria over the past three years, scores of people have been killed in a wave of bomb attacks.
General Abbas Ibrahim, who heads the powerful General Security Agency, said the attack at Dahr Al Baydar which narrowly missed his convoy was linked to recent violence in Iraq.
“The whole of Lebanon is a target,” Ibrahim told a private Lebanese television channel, adding that he “constantly” receives threats, and those he has received recently have been particularly “worrying”.
However, he refused to say whether he thought he was the target of the attack.
“The interior minister (Nohad Al Mashnuq) has already said that what is happening in Iraq will have a catastrophic impact on Lebanon... and this is true. We are preparing ourselves for such a phase,” Ibrahim told LBC.
Jihadists from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) have spearheaded a Sunni militant offensive in Iraq that has seen Mosul, the second city, fall from government control over the past week. “What happens in any country in the region will necessarily impact the whole of the region,” Ibrahim said.
Ibrahim is seen as close to Lebanon’s Shia movement Hezbollah and its ally Damascus. He played a key role in an exchange of prisoners held by President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and a group of nuns held by Syrian rebels.AFP