Lebanon Charges 28 in Connection with Tripoli Café Suicide Attack

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Published Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Lebanon charged 28 people Tuesday for their alleged involvement in a double suicide bomb attack in the northern city of Tripoli earlier this month which killed at least nine people and wounded 37, a judicial source said.

Al-Qaeda's Syria branch, al-Nusra Front, claimed responsibility for the attack in a café the neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen on January 10.

Four of those charged by the main military court are in custody after being arrested last week on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist organization that was plotting to carry out further attacks in Lebanon, the source said.

The other 24 people charged remain at large, the source added.

An al-Nusra commander, talking to Anadolu news agency, identified the two suicide bombers as Taha Samir al-Khayal and Bilal Mohammed al-Mareyan, also known as Ibrahim. This information was confirmed by the Lebanese army.

The two militants were trained by al-Nusra in the Syrian region of Qalamoun according to the commander, who added that the attacks in the majority-Alawi Jabal Mohsen were in retaliation for what he claimed was a campaign carried out by “Alawis against Sunnis in Syria.”

The attack, condemned across Lebanon's political spectrum, prompted widespread raids by security forces, including in the country's largest prison, where Islamist militants are detained, as authorities last week searched for those responsible for the attack.

Roumieh holds 3,700 prisoners, almost twice as much as it was initially designed to hold. It detains many high-profile convicts, and government officials have previously warned that it is a breeding ground for extremism.

In September, militants in Qalamoun area, who abducted an estimated 29 Lebanese soldiers and Internal Security Forces (ISF) members, negotiated with the Lebanese government, to no avail, for the release of Islamist prisoners from Roumieh.

"As a result of the deterioration of security in Lebanon, you will hear about surprises regarding the fate of the prisoners with us," the Islamist al-Nusra Front group said on its Twitter account on last week.

Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants have already beheaded two of their captives and al-Nusra executed two.

Meanwhile, a National News Agency correspondent reported three people had been kidnapped in the northern town of Ersal on Monday and Tuesday. The NNA identified the kidnapped as Mustafa Zaarour and Ali Ezzeddine, who were abducted on Tuesday, and Younes Hojeiry, a quarry owner, who was abducted on Monday night in Wadi Hmayed.

Ersal, a town near the Syrian border, has seen heightened tensions since the eruption of the Syrian conflict, with militants regularly crossing the border and clashing with Lebanese soldiers.

(Reuters, Al-Akhbar)

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