Suspect in Lebanon car bombings killed in shootout

AFP , Thursday 27 Mar 2014

A "dangerous terrorist" wanted in connection with car bomb attacks against the powerful Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah was killed Thursday in a shootout as security forces tried to arrest him, the army said.

Army intelligence had tracked Sami al-Atrash to a hideout in the town of Arsal near the Syrian border and closed in on him Thursday afternoon, a statement said.

"Atrash opened fire on an army patrol as it conducted its search, (soldiers) fired back and he subsequently died of his wounds," a statement said.

A security source told AFP that the man, in his forties, had "been hit in the stomach by several bullets and died in hospital".

Atrash was wanted for "preparing car bombs, firing rockets and mortars at Lebanese towns and villages, kidnapping civilians and involvement in the murder of four" people.

Hezbollah is allied with the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and has sent fighters to help him in that country's civil war.

That has angered Sunni Muslims in Lebanon, who mostly support the rebellion to oust Assad and who have targeted Hezbollah interests in Beirut and elsewhere in the country.

Hezbollah claims that the car bombs were prepared in the Syrian town of Yabrud, recently captured from rebels by Assad's forces, and then driven through Arsal on the other side of the border to their eventual targets.

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