Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk speaks during a press conference in Beirut, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015. (The Daily Star/Stringer)
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Lebanese authorities have arrested seven Syrians and two Lebanese suspected of involvement in last week's deadly twin suicide bombings south of Beirut and smuggling extremists into the country, Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said Sunday.Machnouk also warned of a scheme to plunge Lebanon into chaos as a consequence of a spillover of the nearly 5-year-old war in Syria into the country. It was not immediately clear whether the two are among the nine detainees mentioned by Machnouk.Machnouk said that ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the two blasts that killed at least 46 people and wounded over 200 in Beirut's southern suburb of Burj al-Barajneh last Thursday, had initially planned to attack a hospital near the targeted area by sending five suicide bombers instead of two, but changed its mind because of tight security. Machnouk said that five members of a "terrorist" network had originally planned to blow themselves up in two different locations and not just in the southern Beirut suburb. The five included the two suicide bombers who carried out the Burj al-Barajneh attack, another two members who, he said, were in Syria at the time, and a Lebanese man who was arrested in the northern city of Tripoli's Qibbeh neighborhood Thursday wearing an explosive belt and planning an attack there.Machnouk's media office told The Daily Star that the man, identified as Ibrahim Jamal, had planned to carry out a suicide attack in Tripoli's Jabal Mohsen neighborhood before his arrest. The interior minister warned of more bombings.Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah said the Burj al-Barajneh blasts would only increase the party's determination to fight ISIS in Syria.
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