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Network behind Beirut bombings arrested in 48 hours

Beirut: It took Lebanon 48 hours to arrest the entire network behind the suicide bombings carried out in Bourj al- Barajneh, a suburb in southern Beirut, said the interior minister.

In one of the deadliest attacks in Lebanon in recent years, Bourj al- Barajneh, a stronghold of the Shiite Hezbollah militant group, was struck with twin suicide bombings on Thursday evening. The blasts, which occurred minutes apart, killed at least 43 and wounded around 250 others.

The Islamic State group claimed responsibility of the attack though they don’t have a recognized affiliate in Lebanon. The ISIS fighting in neighbouring Syria and Iraq has had repercussions in the tiny Mediterranean country. Sectarian tensions were inflamed in the country’s Sunnis and Shiites, who have taken opposite sides in the Syrian war.

Five Syrians and one Palestinian were arrested on suspected involvement in the attack, said reports. The network behind the attack was also identified.

“The network includes seven people in addition to the suicide bombers. Obviously, there was a major plan to bomb Lebanese targets,” said the minister, adding they arrested the entire network behind the bombings within 48 hours.

The attack on Thursday was the worst in the country since two car bombs exploded outside two Sunni mosques packed with worshippers in Tripoli on 23 August, 2013.

Hezbollah official Bilal Farhat called it a “satanic, terrorist attack”. “They targeted civilians, worshippers, unarmed people, women, and elderly, they only targeted innocent people,” he told The Associated Press.

The minister informed that the attackers had initially targeted the al-Rasoul al-Aazam hospital with five suicide bombers, but altered their plans due to security measures.

He stressed that the current political disputes in Lebanon, due to which the country has been without a president since May 2014, needed to be sorted out, as political stability was one of the only means to secure the country.

Lebanon also currently hosts 1.1 million Syrian refugees, a number which is equivalent to a fourth of the country’s population.

(Inputs from IANS, AP)

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