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(photo credit: AP)
Lebanese authorities have arrested two Palestinians in connection with a roadside bombing that targeted UN peacekeepers in southern Lebanon last month, a security official said Thursday.
The suspects, Salem Kayed and Ahmed Mohammed, were arrested Wednesday near the Palestinian refugee camp of Ein el-Hilweh in southern Lebanon after they were lured out of the camp by security agents.
The official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media, said the two are former members of Asbat al-Ansar - an extremist Palestinian group based at Ein el-Hilweh - who may have recently joined the Fatah Islam group fighting Lebanese troops in another Palestinian camp in northern Lebanon.
He said they confessed to their involvement in the July 16 roadside bombing of a UN jeep in the southern village of Qassimiyeh that caused damage but no casualties. The UN force is tasked with implementing a UN Security Council resolution that ended last summer's war between Israel and Hizbullah guerrillas.
The official said a third suspect, Bilal Kayed, was still at large, but did not provide further details.
No group has claimed responsibility for the Qassimiyeh attack or a June 24 blast also targeting the UN force that killed six Spanish peacekeepers in southern Lebanon. But in a July videotape, al-Qaida's deputy leader Ayman al-Zawahri blessed the first attack, fueling speculation that it was carried out by al-Qaida-linked militants.
Meanwhile, a Lebanese soldier was killed by a Fatah Islam sniper overnight, said a second security official, also speaking on condition of anonymity. The shooting raised the number of soldiers who have died since fighting erupted to 142.
Fatah Islam militants have been fighting Lebanese troops at the Nahr el-Bared camp in northern Lebanon since May 20.
The group has also been blamed for past attacks inside Lebanon, including the bombing of two buses near Beirut in February that killed three people and wounded 20.