Lebanon arrests 9 over Beirut bombings
Lebanese security forces have arrested nine people, most of them Syrian nationals, over last week's twin bombings in Beirut that killed 44 people, the interior minister said Sunday.
"Until now the detained include seven Syrians and two Lebanese, one of them a (would-be) suicide bomber and the other a trafficker who smuggled them across the border from Syria," Interior Minister Nuhad Mashnuq said in a televised press conference.
The Islamic State jihadist group claimed responsibility for Thursday's attacks, which hit a busy shopping street in Burj al-Barajneh, a suburb where the Shia movement Hizbollah
|The initial plan was apparently to send five suicide bombers to a hospital in the neighbourhood.|
"The whole suicide bombing network and its supporters were arrested in the 48 hours following the explosion," Mashnuq said.
He said the Syrians were detained in a Palestinian refugee camp located in Burj al-Barajneh and a flat in the capital's eastern district of Ashrafieh that had been used to prepare the explosive belts.
The initial plan was apparently to send five suicide bombers to a hospital in the neighbourhood, he said, but heavy security forced them to change the target to a densely populated area.
On Friday, State Prosecutor Judge Samir Hammoud said the investigations confirm there were two suicide bombers, without any evidence establishing there was a third bomber, contradicting statements issued by the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) late on Thursday night.
Hammoud said the first detonation was carried out using a motorcycle rigged with 7kg of explosives, while the second was carried out using a suicide belt.
In an noteworthy statement, the interior minister, Nohad Machnouk, said there could be a political breakthrough following the bombing.
Minister of Justice Ashraf Rifi said meanwhile that he would be referring the bombing to the Judicial Council after putting the matter to a vote in the cabinet.
The site of the bombing remains off limits to journalists and civilians.