News / Middle East

Security Chief Escapes Suicide Bomb Attack in Lebanon

Lebanese army and plainclothes policemen gather at the site of an explosion near a police checkpoint in the eastern town of Dahr el-Baidar, Lebanon, June 20, 2014.
Lebanese army and plainclothes policemen gather at the site of an explosion near a police checkpoint in the eastern town of Dahr el-Baidar, Lebanon, June 20, 2014.
Reuters
A suicide bomber killed one person and wounded 37 in an attack at a security checkpoint in Lebanon on Friday that narrowly missed a top security official who said he had been told Islamist militants wanted to assassinate him.
 
The explosion occurred in the country's Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border, an area where Lebanese Sunni Muslim militants opposed to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have been targeting his key Lebanese ally, the Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah movement.
 
The security official, Major General Abbas Ibrahim, said he passed through the checkpoint on the main highway between Beirut and Damascus minutes before the bomber blew himself up, just 200 meters (yards) away from his convoy.
 
“We miraculously escaped,” Ibrahim told Reuters, adding that many officials in Lebanon were being targeted by the reactivation of “terrorist sleeper cells”.
 
“But the security services are ready and on alert to stop them and we won't become another Iraq,” he said in reference to the fighting between Shi'ite and Sunni factions in Iraq, where Sunni militants have seized wide swathes of territory.
 
Ibrahim, a Shi'ite who heads Lebanon's Directorate of General Security (DGS), said security officials had information that Sunni militants were aiming to assassinate him.
 
“We were suspicious of the (bomber's) car when we were on our way and when the car stopped at the Dahr al-Baydar checkpoint, the explosion went off,” he said.
 
The dead man was a police officer at the checkpoint. The wounded were mainly police, as well as civilians, in the area.
 
Later on Friday, security forces closed a number of roads in Beirut and Tripoli in anticipation of a security risk.
 
Spillover from Syria’s civil war
 
The stepped-up security is part of an effort to contain spillover from Syria's civil war where Hezbollah fighters have helped Assad wrest back territory from mainly Sunni insurgents over the past year.
 
Syria's conflict has re-aggravated sectarian strife in Lebanon where gunbattles, car bombs and rocket attacks linked to Syria have killed scores of Lebanese and revived memories of the country's own 15-year civil war that formally ended in 1990.
 
Sunni militants are angry with Hezbollah's intervention in Syria to bolster Assad, a fellow ally of Shi'ite Iran. Some Lebanese Sunnis have meanwhile joined the Syrian rebels.
 
The Shi'ite-dominated Bekaa valley has been frequently targeted by militants. A suicide bomber killed three people there in March and rockets struck a mainly Shi'ite town near the Syrian border later that month.
 
At the checkpoint where Friday's attack occurred, Lebanese television showed a charred vehicle and black smoke rising and debris littering the ground. Police said the bomber was stopped to be searched and then detonated his explosives belt.
 
The bomber used around 20 kg (42 pounds) of explosives, a local official at the Dahr al-Baydar checkpoint told reporters in footage on Lebanese television, adding that forensic and military experts were examining the scene.
 
Security sources said the DGS had received intelligence that groups under the leadership of the Sunni Islamist Abdullah Azzam Brigades, who are affiliated with al Qaeda, were planning to kill Ibrahim with a car bomb.
 
Lebanese police have begun rounding up people they suspect of links to al Qaeda and other militant groups.
 
Police said they arrested a group of suspected militants in a raid on a hotel in Beirut on Friday and they included foreigners and one Lebanese. They also detained a top commander linked to al Qaeda on Thursday in another raid.

You May Like

For Lebanon-based Refugees, Desperation Fuels Perilous Passage

In a war that has caused an estimated three million people to flee Syria, efforts to make perilous sea journey in search of asylum expected to increase More

South African Brewer Tackles Climate Change

Mega-brewer SAB Miller sent delegates to climate summit in Peru, says it is one of many private companies taking their own steps to fight climate change More

Indonesia Reports Increase in Citizens Joining Islamic State

Officials say more than 350 of its citizens are now in Syria or Iraq to fight with Islamic State - 50 more than last month More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid