BEIRUT (AP) — Lebanon's interior minister said Sunday that the militant Islamic State group may have been behind a suicide bombing in the northern city of Tripoli that killed nine people.
Local media quoted Nouhad Machnouk as telling reporters after a security meeting that "preliminary information indicates that (the Islamic State) is behind the explosion."
The suicide bomber struck a coffee shop in Tripoli's predominantly Alawite neighborhood of Jabal Mohsen, killing nine people and wounding over 30 on Saturday evening.
Lebanon has seen a series of attacks and suicide bombings since the conflict in neighboring Syria began nearly four years ago with the revolt against President Bashar Assad.
Clashes have flared in Tripoli between residents of Jabal Mohsen, who support Assad, a fellow Alawite, and the mainly Sunni residents of Bab al-Tabbaneh, who back the Sunni-led rebellion.
Syria's al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front claimed responsibility on Twitter for Saturday's blast. But militants of the Islamic State have been trying to muscle into jihadi circles in Lebanon in recent months.
The Nusra Front is a bitter ideological rival of the Islamic State, which broke away from al-Qaida and now presents itself as a caliphate to which all Muslims owe allegiance.