BEIRUT, Lebanon (AFP) – A suicide bomber killed at least five people on Thursday (Nov 5) at a Muslim clerics’ meeting in the Lebanese town of Arsal on the border with Syria, a security source told AFP.
The source said that the bomber entered the meeting of Syrian clerics and “detonated an explosive belt, leaving five people dead and six wounded until now.” He said the head of the local clerics’ committee, Sheikh Othman Mansur, was among the wounded.
Arsal is a Sunni Muslim enclave in mainly Shiite eastern Lebanon and hosts many Syrian refugees as well as rebel fighters in the surrounding countryside. “The explosion definitely targeted this meeting... where usually no less than 15 people are gathered,” Arsal resident Abu Ibrahim told AFP by telephone.
He said the committee’s deputy head, Omar al-Halabi, had been killed. “I just went to the hospital, and there were people crying and screaming,” he said.
Arsal was the scene of fierce fighting in Aug 2014 between Lebanese security forces and militants of Al-Qaeda’s Syria affiliate Al-Nusra Front and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group.
As they withdrew from Arsal, the jihadists took dozens of Lebanese police and soldiers hostage and still hold them in the hilly terrain on the town’s outskirts.