BEIRUT, Lebanon (AP) – Lebanese troops shot and killed a suicide bomber near Lebanon’s largest Palestinian camp Saturday, a senior military official said.
The official said a man wearing an explosive belt approached an army checkpoint just outside the Ein el-Hilweh Palestinian camp on the outskirts of the southern city of Sidon.
Troops opened fire and killed the man instantly, according to the official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the media.
It was not immediately clear whether the bomber had planned to attack the army position, which had previously been targeted by Palestinians militants from the teeming camp.
Later, Lebanese TV reported that a military explosive expert removed the explosive belt the man was wearing.
Security officials said soldiers manning the army checkpoint saw a young man climbing out of a car a few meters away and then he dropped a hand grenade.
Soldiers warned the man not to move but he did not comply, and with both hands on his waist, he walked quickly toward the checkpoint, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations.
Troops, fearing that the man might be wearing an explosive belt and a suicide bomber, opened fired and killed him, they added.
The army sealed off the area and a military expert came to the scene and began investigation to determine whether the man was really wearing an explosive belt or carrying hand grenades.
Ein el-Hilweh, with a population of 70,000, is the largest of Lebanon’s 12 Palestinian refugee camps. It is notorious for lawlessness and is frequently rocked by gunfights between armedgroups jockeying for power. A number of fugitives live in the camp, which is under Palestinian jurisdiction and off limits to Lebanese authorities.
Earlier at dawn Saturday, a Lebanese soldier was killed in an explosion the north of the country, the military said, without identifying the cause of the blast.
Privately-owned Future TV, however, reported that the blast, in the northern town of Abdeh, was caused by an explosive planted at an army position.
A military statement identified the victim as Osama Ahmed Hassan, 24.
It was not immediately clear whether the two incidents are linked.
The two incidents came as Lebanon is recovering from sectarian clashes that have left 81 dead and only ended with an Arab League-brokered political agreement between feuding factions and the election of the army commander as head of state.
Abdeh is near the devastated Palestinian refugee camp of Nahr el-Bared where fighting between troops and al-Qaida-inspired Islamic militants erupted a year ago. Hundreds died before the army crushed the rebellion three months later.