A suicide bomb attack in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli has claimed at least seven lives. The blast occurred in a coffee shop in an area home to loyalists of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
A suicide bomb blast on Saturday killed at least seven people and wounded dozens of others at a cafe in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli, 85 km (53 miles) north of the capital, Beirut, Lebanese media and the army said.
The blast occurred in the Jabal Mohsen district, populated predominantly by Alawites, who follow a branch of Shiite Islam.
The Lebanese army said that, "at around 7:30 pm (1730 UTC), a suicide attacker struck a cafe in Jabal Mohsen, killing and wounding several citizens."
An official from the Lebanese Red Cross, George Kitane, told private satellite station al-Jadeed that 36 people had been wounded in the attack, in addition to the seven killed.
The state-run National News Agency put the death toll at nine, citing its local reporter. It said authorities had imposed a curfew in the neighborhood until 7 a.m. local time on Sunday.
Syria's al Qaeda-linked al Nusra Front has taken responsibility for the attack in a message on Twitter, saying it was in revenge for "the killing of Sunni Muslims in Syria and Lebanon." It said two of its members had carried out the attack.
The city has in the past been affected by sectarian violence spilling over from the civil war in neighboring Syria.
The district in the northern port city is known as a home to supporters of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, who is also an Alawite. Fighting between Jabal Mohsen and the neighboring Sunni area of Bab al-Tebbaneh, where many people back rebels trying to oust Assad, has killed scores of people in recent years.
The army has detained hundreds of people since October in a bid to stem the violence.
Sectarian tensions in Lebanon have their roots in the country's own civil war from 1975 to 1990, in which Sunni, Shiite, Christian and other groupings clashed, resulting in an estimated 120,000 deaths.
tj/sms (dpa, AP, AFP)