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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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Tensions continue between Lebanon and Israel

Israel has launched artillery fire across its border with Lebanon in response to two rockets fired in the other direction, according to reports.

Two rockets struck near the town of Kiryat Shmona in northern Israel on Sunday, causing no injuries or damage.

More than 20 Israeli shells then hit near two southern border towns in Lebanon, a witness told Reuters.

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

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