With friction between Sunni and Shiite Muslims intensifying throughout the Islamic world, a terrorist attack by a Sunni terrorist group against a Shiite terrorist group shocked and dismayed Lebanon's government and the Lebanese people on Tuesday.
A suicide car bomb attack killed at least five people and wounded dozens of others in terror group Hezbollah's Beirut stronghold on Tuesday. The Sunni group al-Nusra Front in Lebanon, a branch of a Syrian al-Qaeda-linked group, claimed they were responsible for the attack, according to Middle East news outlets.
"With the help of God almighty we have responded to the massacres carried out by the party of Iran (Hezbollah)... with a martyrdom operation in their backyard in the southern (Beirut) suburbs," the group said in an Internet message posted on their Twitter page.
Hezbollah's own media organization, the al-Manar channel, reported that the bomb attack occurred in the Haret Hriek area. The local news media confirmed the Twitter claim.
"Suicide bomber blows himself up in a car... in Haret Hreik," Lebanon's National News Agency said.
"Body parts apparently belonging to a suicide bomber were [discovered] at the scene," it added.
This latest suicide bombing took place on a busy avenue that had previously been targeted by a deadly suicide car bombing earlier in the month.
The original al-Nusra Front is an official affiliate of al-Qaeda in Syria, who are former members of al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQII). Meanwhile AQII changed its official name to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
It wasn't until late 2013 that an Islamist group began calling itself the Al-Nusra Front in Lebanon, indicating that the war in Syria is gradually spilling over the porous border into Lebanon.
“It’s hard to distinguish between al-Nusra Front in Syria and this group calling itself al-Nusra Front in Lebanon. We can’t draw any immediate conclusions that there are links between the two,” said Matthew Henman, a senior analyst at a London think-tank, the Terrorism & Insurgency Center.