BEIRUT - Lebanon's army on Wednesday arrested a senior al-Qaida-linked militant described by security sources as a "mastermind of car bombs" that targeted Shi'ite areas of the country.
Security sources said the arrest of the "terrorist" Naim Abbas could help uncover radical jihadi cells in Lebanon, which have been ratcheting up attacks against the army and against the political and militant Shi'ite group Hezbollah.
The surge in violence in Lebanon is linked to the three-year conflict in neighboring Syria, with sectarian tensions between Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims rising on both sides of the border.
Hours after Abbas's arrest, security forces found two booby-trapped cars - one loaded with 100 kg of explosives in the Corniche al-Mazraa district of central Beirut and another in the village of Arsal, near the border with Syria.
"It was he (Abbas) who confessed and gave the location of these two cars. So far two cars have been discovered but many more will follow," a security source told Reuters.
Abbas, a Palestinian, was snatched from his house in a Beirut suburb in a special operation led by the Lebanese army early on Wednesday morning.