SIDON/BEIRUT: Lebanese authorities arrested Sunday four people suspected of belonging to a car-bombing ring, caretaker Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said, a day after a vehicle containing a large quantity of explosives was seized south of Beirut.
“Four people were arrested and are suspected of belonging to a cell planning to detonate explosives in vehicles,” Charbel told The Daily Star.
Security sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the four suspects were arrested in the Mraah neighborhood of Naameh, a coastal town south of the Lebanese capital where authorities had seized Saturday a car containing over 250 kilograms of explosives.
The sources said the four were linked to the Naameh incident, adding that the ring leader, Ahmad al-Said, a Salafist in his fifties, was among those apprehended by authorities.
They said the four included both Lebanese and Palestinian nationals.
Authorities are also looking for a fifth suspect identified as Mohammad Assem Ahmad, they added.
According to the sources, there had been initial suspicions the explosive-laden car found in Naameh, an Audi, had been rigged to explode but this was later ruled out.
Authorities found five containers in the car each with 50 kilograms of TNT and a remote detonator, they said, adding that the Audi was parked near Naameh’s municipality and a residential building complex.
The NNA, in a report, said General Security had previously been on the lookout for the vehicle.
The sources said investigators are looking into whether the four suspects are linked to this week’s deadly car bombing in the Ruwaiss area of the southern suburbs of Beirut, a Hezbollah stronghold.
The Thursday bombing in Ruwaiss, which killed at least 27 people and wounded over 300, is one of the latest security incidents linked to the crisis in Syria that is fueling tension in Lebanon.
The Ruwaiss blast came only weeks after a similar car bombing in Bir al-Abed, also in the southern suburb of Beirut. That incident wounded over 50 people and led to extensive damage.
Hezbollah, which in May announced it was fighting with regime forces loyal to President Bashar Assad, blames jihadists from Syria for the attacks in Lebanon and has warned it will step up its military involvement in Lebanon’s neighbor in response.