A suicide bomber has blown himself up in a Beirut hotel. The head of the Lebanese Red Cross says the agency has transferred more than 10 people who were wounded in the blast, among them four security personnel.
Aside from the bomber officials say no one died in the explosion at the Duroy hotel in Beirut's posh Raouche district on Wednesday, contradicting early reports that fatalities had also included two security personnel. Lebanese media have reported that authorities arrested a second potential suicide bomber. The Saudi embassy in Beirut announced that it would look into whether the men were nationals.
The Free Sunnis of Baalbek Brigade have claimed responsibility for the bombing, announcing that "one of our fighters blew himself up when a group of Lebanese crusaders" - an apparent reference to security personnel - "tried to arrest him, but the rest of the fighters managed to leave the area safely."
Wednesday's attack follows the arrest last week of a French citizen in a hotel in the nearby Hamra district of the capital on suspicion plotting to carry out suicide bombings in Lebanon on behalf of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). That group has spearheaded an offensive by a faction of mostly Sunni Muslims that has swept up swathes of Iraq and Syria. Some have called the group a threat to the region and the world.
According to local media reports on Wednesday, the al Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades have warned the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah that they would target its strongholds unless it ends its intervention in Syria's civil war, where it has fought alongside the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Lebanon has taken in a large number of refugees from the conflict, but many worry that the country cannot handle any more.
On Monday, a suicide bomber in a car injured at least a dozen people in Beirut.
mkg/hc (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)