Al-Nusra Front claims attack on checkpoint in Lebanon's Hermel

Published Saturday, February 22, 2014

Updated at 10:05 pm: Al-Nusra Front's Lebanese branch claimed a suicide bombing at an army checkpoint in northeast Lebanon, which killed at least three.

A medical official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said two soldiers and a civilian were killed in the latest attack, and that 16 others, five of them soldiers, were wounded.

Al-Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter, citing Hezbollah's involvement in the Syrian conflict as its motivation for carrying out the suicide car bomb.

The bomb was set off when soldiers at the checkpoint became suspicious of the man in the vehicle, a Jeep Grand Cherokee, the sources said.

Television channel al-Manar broadcast amateur footage showing a huge fire rise above the checkpoint. The sound of people screaming can be heard.

According to a correspondent of the Lebanese National News Agency, the explosion took place at 7:00 pm near the Assi bridge. News channel al-Mayadeen reported that an unexploded car bomb was found at the entrance of Hermel

The Lebanese Red Cross told LBC that the blast had set fire to at least four cars in the vicinity. Security forces closed the road leading to Hermel and the site of the explosion has been cordoned off.

Military court Judge Sakr Sakr ordered the opening of an investigation into the attack, including testing the DNA of the suicide bomber for identification.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam condemned the army checkpoint bombing, calling it a "terrorist attack against a cornerstone of the nation."

The attack comes after a suicide bombing near the Iranian cultural center in southern Beirut that killed eight people on Wednesday. That attack was claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a militant group which said it carried out the bombing as a reprisal for the Hezbollah's involvement in the war in neighboring Syria.

Hermel has also been the target of several bombings since the beginning of the year.

More to come.

(Al-Akhbar, Reuters, AFP)

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