Syrian group Al Nusra Front claims responsibility for Lebanon bombing
The Syrian Al Qaeda-linked rebel group Al Nusra Front claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a cafe in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli on Saturday that left nine dead and more than three dozen injured, according to the National News Agency, the latest violence to spill over from the four-year Syrian civil war.
Lebanese government agencies released conflicting information about the attack in the Shiite Alawite Muslim neighborhood of the mostly Sunni Muslim city of about 130,000 about 50 miles north of Beirut. Lebanese army officials said the attack was carried out by a single suicide bomber, but the National News Agency said there were two, both from Tripoli.
The official Twitter account of Al Nusra Front carried a statement saying that the bombing was “a double martyr operation as vengeance for the Sunni people in Syria and Lebanon.”
An Al Nusra Front commander told local media that the bombers, Tripoli natives Taha Sameer Kayaal and Bilal Mohammad Ibrahim, had been trained in the Syrian border town of Qalamoun. The news agency confirmed the bombers’ names but did not address whether they were affiliated with Al Nusra Front.
Officials ordered a curfew until 7 a.m. Sunday and the army set up a perimeter around the cafe, the National News Agency reported.
The last major violence in the city took place in October, when Sunni extremists clashed with the army, leaving 11 soldiers and 22 militants dead.
In August, Sunni militants attacked the border town of Arsal and captured 26 security personnel, who are still being held hostage.
Lebanon’s longstanding sectarian tension has been aggravated by the war in Syria, where the Alawite government of President Bashar Assad is fighting Sunni rebels, including the extremist groups Al Nusra Front and Islamic State.
“This is the moment for consensus among Lebanese to protect Lebanon,” Health Minister Abu Faour told Lebanon’s New TV.
From 20013 to early 2015, the city was rocked by a series of car bombs and suicide attacks in areas seen as sympathetic to the Shiite militant group Hezbollah, with several groups claiming responsibility, including Al Nusra Front.
Bulos is a special correspondent.
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