Lebanon erupts after Nusra Front-linked murder

The body of an unidentified Sunni man who had been shot dead was found on a road in the mainly Shiite Bekaa Valley region

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Anger erupted in eastern Lebanon early Saturday after al-Qaeda-linked Syrian extremist group the Al-Nusra front said it had killed a captured Lebanese policeman to avenge the arrest of Islamist militants’ wives and children.

The body of an unidentified Sunni man who had been shot dead was found on a road in the mainly Shiite Bekaa Valley region bordering Syria in a suspected act of revenge for the soldier’s murder while gunmen abducted an unknown number of Sunni residents from the area, security sources said.

Angry residents were blocking roads and set fire to tires in the village of Bazzalieh, an AFP correspondent at the scene said.

The village is not far from the border town of Arsal where a former wife and young daughter of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the head of the militant Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) group that has seized large parts of Syria and Iraq, were detained this week.

The flare-up came after Al-Nusra posted a photograph that it said showed the execution of detained Lebanese soldier Ali al-Bazal, in a statement on its Twitter account picked up by the SITE terrorism watchdog.

Bazal was one of around 30 Lebanese soldiers and policemen abducted by jihadists in August during fighting in Arsal.

“If the sisters that were unjustly arrested are not released, then after a short period of time the death sentence will be executed against another prisoner we hold,” Al-Nusra said.

Lebanese security sources said they were trying to verify the claim.

The group did not identify the women and children it said Lebanon was holding, nor did it say how many were missing.

On Wednesday, Lebanon’s interior minister said authorities there were holding the daughter and former wife of ISIS chief Baghdadi.

While both ISIS and Al-Nusra are based in neighboring Syria, they have clashed with Lebanese border forces and with the Lebanese militia Hezbollah, which supports Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

Last month a roadside bomb wounded three Lebanese soldiers near Arsal, where in August troops fought a fierce gun battle with militant who streamed across the border.

Fighting ended with a truce mediated by clerics, but the militants took with them the Lebanese army and police hostages.

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