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State media: Lebanese troops kill militant linked to Beirut hotel bombing


BEIRUT — Lebanese soldiers killed a wanted militant Sunday suspected of involvement in a suicide bombing at a Beirut hotel last month and arrested another man, setting off gunbattles in the tense northern city of Tripoli, state media reported.

The National News Agency said special forces raided an apartment complex early Sunday to arrest a man identified as Monzer al-Hassan. Authorities believe al-Hassan transported explosives to two Saudi Arabian suicide bombers, one of whom blew himself up in the hotel. The other would-be suicide bomber was wounded and detained.

The NNA said al-Hassan resisted arrest and was killed in a shootout. A militant website claimed al-Hassan detonated an explosives-laden belt he was wearing as army forces sought to arrest him. The NNA said al-Hassan as a Swedish citizen, but Sweden's Foreign Ministry said that was not correct.

At around the same time, Lebanese forces arrested a man identified as Hussam al-Sabbagh, whom state media said was responsible for "terrorist acts." Other Lebanese media identified al-Sabbagh as a dual Lebanese-Australian citizen.

The arrest raids came after some two weeks of heightened tensions in Tripoli, which has seen a series of deadly clashes between supporters and opponents of the embattled government in neighboring Syria since the start of the uprising there in 2011. The city had been fairly quiet since April, however, when the Lebanese army began arresting gunmen linked to the clashes.

Several people were wounded when gunbattles broke out in a tense Tripoli neighborhood following al-Sabbagh's arrest, state media reported.

Associated Press writers Maamoun Youssef in Cairo and Jari Tanner in Tallinn, Estonia, contributed to this report.

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