Middle East

Suicide bomber strikes in east Lebanon, kills 2

A suicide bomber detonated his car near a police checkpoint in eastern Lebanon on Friday, killing two people, the country's state-run news agency reported.

A senior Lebanese security official confirmed the blast in the town of Dahr el-Baidar, at the entrance to eastern Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. The official, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media, said it was not immediately clear how many people were killed or wounded in the explosion.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.

Syria's civil war has spilled over into neighboring Lebanon on multiple occasions and inflamed sectarian tensions. A series of car bombs have struck Shiite areas across Lebanon, killing dozens of people.

Friday's explosion, however, was the first in several months and came against the backdrop of soaring in tensions in the region after Sunni insurgents seized vast swaths of territory in northern Iraq.

Lebanon has been on edge, bracing for renewed violence as a result of the surge by Islamic extremists in neighboring Syria and also in Iraq.

Security forces on Friday raided at least one hotel in Beirut's bustling Hamra district, suspecting "terrorist cells" inside it, according to a police official. The details or the result of the search were not revealed. The official spoke on condition of anonymity in line with security regulations.