Police defused a small bomb at the American University of Beirut on Thursday in what appeared to be the latest of a series of attempts to cause explosions in Lebanon, security officials said.

An explosives expert defused a bomb of 200 grams of TNT that was found in a bag near an elevator in the Issam Fares Hall, a building off the main campus, said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

The bomb was wired to a detonator and ready to explode, the official added. It was taken to a police barracks for investigation.

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Police are also looking into how the bomb got into the university, whose entrances are guarded by police officers and the university's own security guards.

Lebanon has suffered a series of bomb attacks during the last two years. The biggest was the suicide truck bombing that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 other people in February 2005.

Last month, bombs on two buses on a mountain road outside Beirut killed three passengers.

The explosions and attempted bombings are believed to be related to long-running political quarrels over Lebanon's relations with its big neighbor, Syria, and the role of Hezbollah, the only faction that has not disarmed since the 1975-90 civil war.

The Hezbollah-led opposition is currently waging a campaign of demonstrations to bring down the government of the Western-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora.

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