Several suspects have been apprehended following a string of deadly attacks in the Lebanese capital. Allegedly, their original plan had been to target a hospital instead of a crowded neighborhood.
Eleven suspects have been arrested in Lebanon, the interior minister announced on Sunday, in connection with the bombings in Beirut that killed 44 people. Interior Minister Nuhad Mashnuq also said that the terrorists' original plan had been to target a hospital.
"The detained include seven Syrians and two Lebanese, one of them a (would-be) suicide bomber and the other a trafficker who smuggled them across the border from Syria," Mashnuq told a press conference.
"The whole suicide bombing network and its supporters were arrested in the 48 hours following the explosion," the minister said, applauding security forces for their "extraordinary achievement."
Mashnuq said the Syrians had been apprehended in a Palestinian refugee camp in the Beirut suburb of Bourj al-Barajneh and a downtown apartment where suicide belts for the attack had been prepared. One Lebanese national was arrested in the northern port of Tripoli after his explosives failed to detonate.
Mashnuq: It won't be the last time
Thursday's bombings saw several suicide attackers a Hezbollah-dominated neighborhood, allegedly out of revenge for the organization's support of the regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria. Following the explosions, "Islamic State" (IS) claimed responsibility for the tragedy - making it their largest attack on Syria's western neighbor.
Mashnuq said that authorities had discovered that the attack on a populated neighborhood was actually the terrorists' plan B. Hesaid they were originally set on targeting a nearby hospital, but heavy security presence forced them to reconsider.
Mashnuq also warned that this was likely just the beginning of large-scale IS attacks in Beirut, saying "when they send five suicide attackers to one place, it means... it won't be the last (time)."
The violence in Beirut came just a day before a similarly well-coordinated IS attack hit Paris, killing 129 people in the French capital and wounding a further 350.
es/sgb (AFP, AP)