Lebanon foils bomber in Beirut’s Hamra district

Lebanese security forces secure the street near the cafe in Hamra street in Beirut where a suicide bomber was arrested minutes before exploding himself on January 22, 2017. (AFP)

Lebanese soldiers arrested a would-be suicide bomber inside a crowded cafe in one of the busiest neighborhoods in the capital Beirut on Saturday night, security sources said.

The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a man wearing an explosive bomb belt had been detained by authorities after entering a coffee shop in the upscale Hamra neighborhood in west Beirut.

The cafe is on the main street of the bustling area, and was filled with people socializing on a weekend evening when the arrest occurred around 2100 GMT.

The ID that security forces found with the would-be suicide bomber. The name reads Omar al-Asi.

The sources said the man was being followed by security forces, who have stepped up foot patrols in the neighborhood in recent weeks.

The man was injured during the arrest, with several soldiers holding him down to ensure he was not able to detonate the belt, one security source said.

The Costa coffee shop in Beirut's Hamra street that was the target of the would-be attack.

He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment before interrogation, the sources added
Lebanon has been hit by a string of bomb attacks in recent years, with some linked to the ongoing war in neighboring Syria.

Some of the deadliest blasts have targeted neighborhoods sympathetic to the powerful Shiite Hezbollah movement, which is fighting alongside Syria's government against an uprising.

Security forces arresting the would-be suicide bomber.

The casualties in the blasts have been almost exclusively civilians.

The Hamra neighborhood, a district known for shopping and nightlife, has not previously been hit by an attack.

But in June 2016, the army said it had arrested jihadists from the Islamic State group planning attacks against busy areas, including Hamra.

An AFP correspondent in Hamra said a heavy security presence remained in place with the cafe and several nearby restaurants closing after the incident.

But residents could still be seen on the street, which was reopened to traffic around an hour after the arrest.

Last Update: Sunday, 22 January 2017 KSA 07:57 - GMT 04:57

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Lebanon foils bomber in Beirut’s Hamra district
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, said a man wearing an explosive belt had been detained by authorities
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