A Lebanese soldier stands guard near the wreckage of cars at the site of the explosion in Hermel, Sunday, Feb. 2, 2014. (The Daily Star/Hasan Shaaban)
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The rigged vehicle used in a suicide bombing mission that rocked the northeastern town of Hermel over the weekend had first passed through the nearby town of Arsal, security sources told The Daily Star Sunday.The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said that the gray Jeep Grand Cherokee with the fake license plate 371683, passed through Arsal before the attack, taking the road linking the village of Labweh to Hermel. The sources said that the suicide bomber toured the town of Hermel before detonating his vehicle near the Aytam gas station Saturday evening, killing three people and wounding 23 others. Al-Qaeda offshoot, which claimed responsibility for a similar deadly bombing in Hermel on Jan. 16, said the frequency of similar attacks revealed "Hezbollah's weakness".Hezbollah argues that most rigged cars detonated in the Beirut southern suburbs and Hermel were loaded with explosives in rebel-held Syrian territories and entered Lebanon via Arsal.Speaking to a local media outlet, Hujeiri said that residents of Arsal did not protect perpetrators of such attacks, accusing the Syrian regime of sending rigged cars to Shiite villages surrounding Arsal to spark Sunni-Shiite strife.The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon also condemned the Hermel bombing.
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