JNN 26 June 2014 Beirut : About a dozen people, including three members of security forces, have been injured in a bomb attack at a hotel in the Lebanese capital.
A suicide bomber who blew himself up at a Beirut hotel and his accomplice, who survived the blast, are citizens of Saudi Arabia, Lebanese officials said Thursday.
The bomber detonated his explosives at Beirut’s Duroy Hotel during a security raid on Wednesday evening, and died in the blast. Another man was wounded and was being questioned by security agents at a Beirut hospital.
A security and a judicial official told The Associated Press that a preliminary probe shows the two attackers entered Lebanon with Saudi passports on June 11, and had paid for bookings in two other hotels besides the Duroy.
The two officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not allowed to talk to the media during an ongoing investigation. Security forces are pursuing other suspects and on Thursday, special forces in bullet-proof vests and accompanied by police dogs raided at least one hotel in Beirut.
The two had taken refuge in Duroy Hotel near the Saudi Embassy in the Raouche neighborhood of Beirut when Lebanese security agents raided the hotel after receiving intelligence of their stay there, security sources said.
“This was a pre-emptive strike by General Security,” Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said, adding that the two Saudi nationals “were supposed to carry out an attack in another location.”
Machnouk also said that it was not the first time that security forces have prevented bombers from reaching their targets.
The attack came a day after a car bombing in a southern neighborhood of Beirut killed a security officer and injured at least 20 people.
Lebanon has been suffering from terrorist attacks by al-Qaeda-linked militants as well as random rocket attacks, which are viewed as a spillover of the conflict in Syria.
The Lebanese Red Cross said 11 other people were wounded in the hotel explosion.
It was the third suicide bombing in Lebanon in less than a week and sparked fears of renewed violence in a country that has been deeply affected by the civil war in neighboring Syria.
On Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up near a checkpoint outside a cafe just after midnight in a primarily Shiite neighborhood where the militant Hezbollah group has a strong presence. The bombing killed one person and wounded 20.
An al-Qaida-linked group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, has warned that such attacks will continue as long as Hezbollah takes part in Syria’s civil war alongside President Bashar Assad’s troops.
Syria’s civil war has spilled into neighboring Lebanon on numerous occasions. A series of car bombs have struck Shiite areas across Lebanon, killing dozens of people.
The string of security incidents over the past week has rattled Lebanon, and Beirut in particular, after what had been a calm and stable stretch of several months.
Another bombing in eastern Lebanon last week killed a police officer and wounded several others.
The bombings, coupled with the detention last Friday in Beirut of people accused of being part of alleged Wahabi Terrorist sleeper cells, has given rise to concerns that Lebanon could see a new wave of violence linked to the Syrian conflict.