Lebanon car bomb hits Hezbollah stronghold near border

The attack is seen as punishment for Hezbollah's military involvement in Syria, Carine Torbey reports

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A car bomb has exploded in a Hezbollah stronghold near Lebanon's northern border with Syria, killing at least three people, officials say.

The blast happened near a petrol station in the eastern town of Hermel in the Bekaa Valley, state media said.

A group calling itself the al-Nusra Front in Lebanon claimed it had carried out the attack.

There has been a spike in sectarian tension in Lebanon blamed on the conflict in neighbouring Syria.

Dozens of people have been killed in a series of car bombings in Beirut and Tripoli in recent months.

Both Sunni and Shia militants have been blamed for recent attacks.

Revenge attack

Local television showed pictures of a large fireball lighting up the area, and burning cars engulfed in flames. At least 15 people were injured.

Site of bomb attack in Beirut (1 February 2014) It is the second attack claimed by the group in Hermel since January

The Lebanese National News Agency initially reported that four people were killed, but later revised the number down to three.

In a statement on Twitter, the al-Nusra Front in Lebanon said the attack was in revenge for "massacres" perpetrated by the Shia Islamist movement, Hezbollah.

Hezbollah has been supporting government forces in Syria.

It is not clear what links the al-Nusra Front in Lebanon has to the al-Nusra Front in Syria - an al-Qaeda-linked force fighting Mr Assad's government

Saturday's bombing is the second deadly attack claimed by the group in Hermel within a fortnight.

Five people were killed and 20 others injured in a bombing there on 16 January.

Lebanon has been politically deadlocked since last March, with an alliance led by Sunni former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and Hezbollah unable to agree on a coalition government.

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