Lebanese forensic experts work in the aftermath of an explosion in Beirut's southern district of Bir Hassan on February 20, 2014
Lebanese forensic experts work in the aftermath of an explosion in Beirut's southern district of Bir Hassan on February 20, 2014 © Anwar Amro - AFP/File
Lebanese forensic experts work in the aftermath of an explosion in Beirut's southern district of Bir Hassan on February 20, 2014
AFP
Last updated: February 21, 2014

Beirut bombings toll rises to 11

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Lebanese authorities have identified one of two suicide bombers who attacked an Iranian cultural centre in Beirut this week as a radical Sunni Muslim Palestinian, a security source said Friday.

The news emerged as the toll from Wednesday's double car bombing rose to 11, after a woman died of her wounds.

"One of the suicide bombers involved in the attack in Bir Hassan has been identified as Nidal Mughayer, a 29-year-old from Al-Bisariya," in south Lebanon, the source said.

The army said he had been identified through DNA testing, with relatives and the security source adding that Mughayer's father had come forward voluntarily to cooperate in the testing process.

News of Mughayer's identity spread quickly to his predominantly Shiite home town with a small, mostly Palestinian, Sunni population.

Some residents attacked Mughayer's family home and set fire to vehicles, the source said.

Mughayer had disappeared from the village several months earlier and was a follower of radical Sunni cleric Ahmed al-Assir, the security source said.

Assir, who was known for his diatribes against Lebanon's Iran-backed Shiite Hezbollah movement, has been at large since escaping fierce clashes between his supporters and the army in the southern city of Sidon last summer.

Some of his backers are believed to have fled to Syria after the clashes, and two were implicated in a double suicide bomb attack against the Iranian embassy in Beirut in November.

"Nidal went to sheikh Assir in Sidon a lot and had very extremist idea and hated Shiites," one of his relatives told AFP on condition of anonymity.

"Other young men have also gone missing in recent months and we fear the worst," he said.

Local resident Hassan Diab said Syrian refugees were living in the village along with Palestinian refugees who have been there for years.

"The residents are hospitable, but what upset them was hearing a video on a television channel in which Nidal said he wants to kill all Shiites and Alawites," he said.

Alawites are an offshoot of Shiite Islam. Syrian President Bashar al-Assad belongs to the community.

Wednesday's attack was claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a jihadist group inspired by Al-Qaeda that also claimed the November embassy bombing.

The group said it was to punish Lebanon's powerful Iran-backed Shiite group Hezbollah and Tehran for their role in the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Both Hezbollah and Iran back Syria's President Assad, who is battling a Sunni-led uprising.

Extremist groups have claimed responsibility for a series of attacks against areas of Lebanon considered strongholds of Hezbollah, killing dozens of civilians.

Late Thursday, Syria's interior ministry said it was willing to "cooperate with the Lebanese interior ministry in the fight against terrorism," according to state news agency SANA.

It was ready to "provide all possible means to prevent terrorist attacks that target the security and safety of the brotherly Syrian and Lebanese people."

Syria's government refers to all those seeking its overthrow as "terrorists".

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