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

Bleak China Economic Outlook Rattles Markets

Several key European stock indexes were down up to three percent, while US market indexes were off around 2.5 percent in afternoon trading More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs