Skip to main content

1 suspect arrested after Lebanon car bombings kill 45

By Saad Abedine and David Simpson, CNN
August 24, 2013 -- Updated 1933 GMT (0333 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • NEW: Suspect seen on surveillance camera in Al-Salam mosque, state news says
  • NEW: Machine guns and grenades seized from suspect's home, says the report
  • Blasts occurred near mosques with Syrian ties
  • Lebanon's Hezbollah sends Shiite fighters to support Syrian government

(CNN) -- One suspect has been arrested in connection to a pair of car bombings that killed at least 45 people in northern Lebanon, the state-run National News Agency reported.

Shiekh Ahmed al-Ghareeb was seen on surveillance camera in Al-Salam mosque in the site of the explosion. Security forces raided his home in Al-Minye and seized some military machine guns and some grenades, according to the news agency.

The blasts Friday in Tripoli occurred near mosques run by Sunni imams with ties to Syrian rebels. While some Lebanese Sunnis have gone to neighboring Syria to fight alongside those trying to unseat President Bashar al-Assad's government, Shiites from Lebanon's Hezbollah group are fighting in support of the embattled leader.

Even before authorities had given indications as to who was behind the bombing, members of the Lebanese parliament from Tripoli issued a statement Friday night blaming "treacherous hands that strive to import the regional blaze into Lebanon," NNA reported.

The legislators also called on Tripoli residents to show restraint and cooperate with security officials.

In addition to the deaths, at least 500 people were reported injured in the blasts, which the National News Agency reported. The first one occurred near the Sunni al Taqwa mosque and the second was, minutes later, near al Salam mosque.

This latter explosion was close to the residences of acting Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Ashraf Rifi, the former head of the country's Internal Security Forces. Rifi is widely despised by Hezbollah and Lebanese politicians friendly to al-Assad, the Syrian president.

This bomb produced a crater 5 meters (16.4 feet) across, incinerated more than 60 cars and damaged six residential buildings, the news agency said.

Mikati issued a statement via Twitter condemning the bombings.

"We urge our children and brothers in Tripoli to practice self-restraint, and we pledge to them that we will always stand by them, especially during these critical times," he said.

Tammam Salam, the man designated to become Lebanon's next prime minister, cut short a private trip to Greece after the blasts.

"The crime of Tripoli is further evidence that the situation in Lebanon reached a very critical stage and requires us to be on high alert on the political, national and security levels in order to eradicate the internal strife," he said.

Hezbollah said, in its own statement, that the explosions were part of a "criminal scheme aimed at sowing seeds of strife among the Lebanese."

A car bombing in a southern suburb of Beirut earlier this month rocked a Hezbollah stronghold, killing at least 22 people and injuring hundreds.

Fears of religious warfare are potent in Lebanon, where a civil war between Christian and pro-Palestinian Muslim militias killed an estimated 150,000 people from 1975 until 1990.

CNN's Michael Pearson, Nada Husseini, and Hamdi Alkhshali contributed to this report.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
This looks like a ghost ship, but it's actually the site of a tense international standoff between the Philippines and China.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 1555 GMT (2355 HKT)
The reported firing of artillery from Russian territory is a sign Vladimir Putin has escalated the Ukraine battle, says CNN's military analyst Rick Francona.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 0846 GMT (1646 HKT)
The young boy stops, stares, throws ammunition casings at the reporter's feet without a word.
July 27, 2014 -- Updated 1237 GMT (2037 HKT)
A picture taken on June 28, 2014 shows a member of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) putting on protective gear at the isolation ward of the Donka Hospital in Conakry, where people infected with the Ebola virus are being treated. The World Health Organization has warned that Ebola could spread beyond hard-hit Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone to neighbouring nations, but insisted that travel bans were not the answer.
The worst ebola outbreak in history spreads out of control in West Africa. CNN's Michael Holmes reports.
July 26, 2014 -- Updated 0048 GMT (0848 HKT)
Sure, Fido is a brown Lab. But inside, he may also be a little green.
July 24, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
ITN's Dan Rivers reports from the hospital where those injured by an attack in Gaza were being treated.
July 28, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Photograph of an undisclosed location by Patrycja Makowska
Patrycja Makowska likes to give enigmatic names to the extraordinarily beautiful photographs she shoots of crumbling palaces.
July 23, 2014 -- Updated 0804 GMT (1604 HKT)
When the Costa Concordia and its salvage convoy finally depart Giglio, the residents will breathe a sigh of relief -- and shed a tear.
July 25, 2014 -- Updated 1808 GMT (0208 HKT)
Flight attendants are wearing black ribbons to show solidarity with fallen colleagues in "a tribute to those who never made it home."
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
ADVERTISEMENT