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Lebanon 'arrests leader behind Iran embassy bombing'

Lebanon's defence minister has said that troops have arrested the leader of the group thought to be behind bombing of the Iranian embassy in November, AFP reports.

Soldiers and police surround the scene of an explosion near the Iranian embassy
Soldiers and police surround the scene of an explosion near the Iranian embassy Credit: Reuters

Maged al-Maged, the head of the al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, was reportedly detained by Lebanese troops in Beirut.

The embassy attack killed 23 people including the Iranian cultural attache on November 19.

Read more: '23 dead' in Beirut embassy blast

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UK envoy condemns 'cowardly assassination' in Beirut

The British ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher has paid tribute to the former Lebanese minister killed in a blast in Beirut and condemned his "cowardly assassination"

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Mohamad Chatah was a wise, tolerant, smart patriot. His courage not that he knew risks but that he believed Lebanon worth taking them for.

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2/2 We condemn his cowardly assassination. Determined to honour his memory by support to justice, rule of law and stability for Lebanon.

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At tense points, my 1st call to Mohamad Chatah. Was always in mix, looking for constructive path. Should not let them kill that moderation.

Latest pictures from the scene of the blast

'Panic and terror' amongst residents after Beirut bomb

Residents have described seeing "panic and terror" in the streets of Beirut after a bomb blast hit the Lebanese capital killing five people including a former minister.

"The explosion caught motorists driving in the morning rush hour here. There was terror and panic among residents. There was a big ball of fire and panic everywhere and then we learned that Chatah was the target," Adel-Raouf Kneio said.

Lebanese army soldiers run to secure the site of an explosion. Credit: Reuters

The blast, which was heard across the city at around 9:40 am local time, damaged restaurants, coffee shops and offices in downtown Beirut.

"I heard a huge explosion and saw a ball of fire and palls of black smoke. We run out of our offices to the streets," Hassan Akkawi, who works in a finance company nearby, said.

Civil Defence personnel extinguish fires on cars at the site of an explosion in Beirut. Credit: Reuters

Witnesses described seeing glass everywhere, cars on fire and smelling explosives in the air.

Much of Beirut went into lockdown following the explosion, with police blocking off roads across the city.

Read: Ex-minister killed in Beirut bomb blast opposed Assad

Ex-minister killed in Beirut bomb blast opposed Assad

A former Lebanese minister killed in a bomb blast in Beirut opposed Syrian president Bashar al-Assad and was a prominent critic of Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah movement.

A tweet posted on his Twitter account less than an hour before the blast accused the Shi'ite movement of trying to take control of the country.

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#Hezbollah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 yrs.

A Lebanon-based al Qaeda-linked group, the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened further attacks unless Iran withdraws forces from Syria, where they have backed Assad's war against rebels.

Chatah was on his way to attend a meeting when the explosion tore through his car.

A Reuters witness at the scene said his car was "totally destroyed, it is a wreck", claiming they found Chatah's identity card, torn and charred inside his car.

Pictures: Explosion hits Lebanese capital Beirut

Hague sends sympathy to victims of Beirut blast

The Foreign Secretary William Hague has said his thoughts and sympathies are with the people of Lebanon after a bomb blast rocked Beirut this morning.

At least five people, including a former Lebanese minister, are believed to have been killed when the explosion occurred in the downtown business district of the capital.

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Sad news from #Beirut. My thoughts and sympathy with the people of #Lebanon and the families of all those killed

Read: Black smoke rising over Beirut after explosion

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Unknown number of casualties in Beirut blast

An explosion has hit the Lebanese capital Beirut, with the number of casualties currently unknown.

The blast was heard across the city and black smoke was seen rising near the Phoenicia Hotel.

Ambulances were seen taking victims from the area, according to a witness.

Fire fighting and army personnel inspect the site of an explosion in Beirut's downtown area. Credit: Reuters
ires burn and smoke rises from the site of the explosion. Credit: Reuters
An explosion has rocked the Lebanese capital Beirut. Credit: Reuters

Read: 'Former Lebanese minister killed' in Beirut explosion

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