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Second wave of suicide attacks target village on Lebanon's Syria border

Predominantly Christian village on Lebanon's border with Syria was struck by two waves of suicide attacks carried out by multiple assailants
Lebanese soldiers patrol the Lebanese village of Al-Qaa, near the border with war-ravaged Syria (AFP)

Lebanon was rocked by a second round of suicide attacks on its border with Syria on Monday evening, according to local reports, after earlier bombings killed at five and wounded 15 people.

The Daily Star reported that four suicide attacks took place at a church in the village of Al-Qaa, where residents were holding a vigil at a church to mourn the victims of other suicide attacks that took place in the village earlier on Monday. 

Following the attacks, Lebanese military forces have reportedly arrested over 200 refugees in Syrian refugee camps near the village.

While Lebanese newspaper Assafir cited military sources saying that the attackers may have come inside the camps, Interior Minister Nuhad Mashnuq told reporters that the attackers came from inside Syria, not the camps.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but analysts cited by AFP said the bombings bore the hallmark of both the Islamic State group and al-Qaeda. 

Al-Qaa is a predominantly Christian village that has been shaken by violence for the last five years since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria. It is one of several border posts seperating Lebanon from Syria. 

Hospital officials reported that at least 13 people were wounded in the attacks, according to the state-run National News agency. The Lebanese Red Cross said three suicide bombers had died in the attacks.

A military source told AFP that the first attacker knocked on the door of one of the homes in the village, but after the resident became suspicious, blew himself up.

Three other suicide attackers had detonated their own explosives as people began gathering to treat the wounded.

At least five people were killed and 15 others wounded in earlier pre-dawn suicide attacks on Monday in Al-Qaa.

The mayor of Al-Qaa, Bashir Matar, issued an urgent call to residents to stay indoors in televised remarks warning of suicide bombers potentially roaming the village.

“The security situation today is above all considerations,” Khodr said in a statement to the LBC television channel.

Lebanese Shia movement Hezbollah denounced the attacks as a “crime borne of terrorist ideology".

UN Special Coordinator for Lebanon Sigrid Kaag called for international support to help the Lebanese army confront “security challenges” and the “terrorist threat in Lebanon and along its borders”.

Lebanese army chief General Jean Kahwaji said Al-Qaa and other border villages “represent Lebanon’s first defence lines against terrorism”.

Suicide blasts in the area have typically targeted checkpoints or military installations and have rarely included more than one attacker.

In August 2014, the army clashed with IS and the Nusra Front, al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Syria, in the border town of Arsal.