Top suspect in Bir Hassan blasts detained: Reuters

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A woman pulls a suitcase in the aftermath of an explosion in Beirut's southern district of Bir Hassan on February 20, 2014. (Photo: AFP - Anwar Amro)

Published Thursday, February 20, 2014

Updated 1:30 pm: Lebanese security forces have detained a militant suspected of recruiting suicide bombers and assembling car bombs for a radical group that was behind attacks in Beirut, security sources told Reuters on Friday.

They said Hassan Abu Afleh, arrested in Beirut on Saturday, is suspected of being a leading figure in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, the group that claimed responsibility for Wednesday's twin suicide attack near the Iranian cultural center that killed eight people.

The same group said it was behind an attack in November on the Iranian embassy.

It follows the arrest last week of Naim Abbas, another leading militant identified by one of the security sources as working for the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - a hardline group that is fighting in Syria.

Details of the latest arrest had not emerged sooner because of the ongoing investigation.

Earlier, Lebanon's official news agency announced on Friday that the toll in the double suicide car bombing outside an Iranian cultural center in Beirut has risen to 11.

The National News Agency said an Ethiopian woman wounded in Wednesday's attacks had died at the Hariri University hospital.

The death toll cited by the Lebanese news agency and the Health Ministry did not include the two suicide bombers.

On Wednesday, the health ministry had put the death toll at six, with 129 people injured in the attack in the Bir Hassan neighborhood.

A judicial source said work was still underway to identify the two suicide bombers who carried out the attack, which was claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a jihadi group inspired by al-Qaeda.

Military court Judge Saqr Saqr announced on Thursday that they recognized one of the bombers, Nidal al-Mughayar through a DNA test performed on his father, LBC news channel reported. Mughayar is a 29-year-old Palestinian from al-Bisariya in south Lebanon, and was a follower of radical cleric, Ahmad al-Assir, who is now on the run from authorities since fierce clashes between his supporters and the Lebanese army broke out in Sidon last summer.

Lebanon has seen a spate of deadly bombings since July, which have intensified in frequency since late December.

(Reuters, AFP, Al-Akhbar)


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