September 29, 2008

Lebanese Minister Holds Security Meeting on Bus Blast

Text of report in English by Lebanese Hezbollah Al-Manar TV website on 29 September

[Unattributed report: "Five Killed, Dozens Injured in Lebanon Army Bus Blast"]

Preliminary reports said that at least five people were killed on Monday in a blast targeting a military bus on the outskirts of the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli.

"We have at least six people killed, three of them soldiers," A security official said. "We have about 30 other people injured." He said the bomb went off at the southern entrance of the city as the mini-bus was heading towards the capital Beirut during morning rush- hour. There were about 24 passengers on board.

Police and the army immediately cordoned off the area as forensic experts began gathering evidence. Interior Minister Ziad Baroud convened the Central Security Council for an extraordinary meeting to follow up the developments of the deadly attack.

Residents rushed to the scene or to hospitals in the area to look for their loved ones.

One man in his 50s wept and appealed for news about his son who he said was on board the bus.

The force of the blast shattered windows and damaged cars nearby. Police suspect the bomb was placed in a car and was detonated by remote control. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

A similar explosion in August left 14 people dead, nine of them soldiers, in the deadliest attack in the country in three years. That attack was also the worst involving the army since a 15-week battle last year with the Fatah al-Islam militia in a Palestinian refugee camp near Tripoli that left 400 people dead, including 168 soldiers.

Monday's explosion came as Lebanon's rival factions have been working towards resolving their differences following a long- running political crisis that brought the country to the brink of civil war in May.

It also took place amid heightened tensions in the region following a weekend bombing which left 17 people dead in the capital of neighbouring Syria. The official news agency SANA said the attack was the result of a suicide attack by a "terrorist" with links to takfiri group.

"A preliminary inquiry has shown that the car which exploded Saturday came across a border post and that the terrorist driving it blew himself up with the vehicle," the agency said.

Originally published by Al-Manar Television website, Beirut, in English 29 Sep 08.

(c) 2008 BBC Monitoring Middle East. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.