Suicide bombing of Lebanese cafe claimed by al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front

Reports of fatalities vary from seven to nine killed in Saturday's blast, which struck a cafe in an Alawite neighborhood of Tripoli, Lebanon. Al-Qaida-affiliated Nusra Front claimed responsibility for the attack.

By Fred Lambert

TRIPOLI, Lebanon, Jan. 11 (UPI) -- Several people were killed when a pair of suicide bombers detonated at a cafe in Tripoli, Lebanon, on Saturday, in the latest violence to spill over from Syria's civil war.

Nusra Front, a Syrian militant group linked to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred at a packed coffee house called Cafe Omran in a predominantly Alawite neighborhood known as Jabal Mohsen.


The BBC reports seven fatalities and 30 wounded, while Al Jazeera reports nine people killed and 35 wounded.

Nusra Front said the "double martyrdom operation" targeted "nusayri," a derogatory term for Alawites. The group said it was "revenge for the Sunnis in Syria and Lebanon."

The attacks represent the first suicide bombings in Lebanon since June 2014, at a cafe in Beirut where several people had gathered to watch the World Cup.

The civil war in Syria has raged since 2011 and caused cross-border violence in neighboring Lebanon. The conflict has pitted Syria's president, Bashar al-Assad, against a largely fragmented Sunni insurgency that includes groups like Islamic State and Nusra Front. Al-Assad is an Alawite, a minority group in Syria that is linked to Shia Islam.


Shia powers in the region, such as Iran, have provided military assistance to Al-Assad, while Lebanese Shia militant group Hezbollah sent forces to assist the embattled Syrian army against Sunni rebel groups.

In Sept. 2014 Nusra Front executed a Lebanese soldier for Hezbollah's interference and for Lebanese army raids on Sunnis in the border town of Arsal.

Saturday's bombings halt a period of relative calm in Tripoli that began following an end to fighting between the Lebanese army and Nusra Front militants in the Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood in Oct. 2014.

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