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

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs