Lebanon has charged five men, including a Syrian army officer and a Sunni cleric close to the Syrian government, over bomb attacks on two mosques in the northern city of Tripoli last week that killed at least 47 people.

Judicial sources said a military court accused the cleric, Sheikh Ahmad Gharib, and a journalist, Mostafa Houri, of forming an armed group to attack government institutions, organising a terrorist cell and preparing the bombs.

Two Syrian men, including the officer, Captain Mohammed Ali, were on Friday charged in absentia with placing the bombs.

According to Lebanese media, Ali is a Syrian security official based in Tartus, a city on the Mediterranean near the border with Lebanon and not far from Tripoli.

Neither of the Syrians are currently in Lebanon, but if convicted, they face the death penalty.

A fifth man, Sheikh Hesham Minkara, was being held on charges of withholding information. Minkara is the head of al-Tawhid, a Sunni organisation close to the Syrian government.

The twin attacks, which also wounded hundreds, came just one week after a blast ripped through a densely populated Shia area of Beirut, killing 27.

Fearing more violence, authorities on Friday banned vehicles from parking in front of Sunni mosques across the country.

Tripoli in particular has been riven by often deadly strife over the Syrian conflict between Sunnis and Alawites, a Shia offshoot sect from which Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hails.

Source: Agencies