BEIRUT - Lebanon has thwarted a plan by the Islamic State group to carry out three suicide bombings in Beirut’s southern suburbs, the interior ministry said Wednesday.

“A terrorist group had recruited young Palestinian men in Lebanon to carry out major bombing attacks using explosive belts” and other munitions, Interior Minister Bassam Mawlawi told a press conference.

“Three separate targets were to be hit at the same time,” the ministry said, in an operation Mawlawi said would have caused a large loss of life.

Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) said the instructions for the bomb plot came from an IS operative based in the Palestinian refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh.

The instructions were passed to an undercover ISF agent who had successfully managed to infiltrate IS networks in Lebanon.

On February 7, the ISF agent was instructed to prepare attacks on a Shiite religious compound in the Al-Laylaki neighbourhood, the Imam al-Kazem compound in Haret Hreik and the Al-Nasser mosque in Beirut’s Ouzai suburb, the ISF said.  He was given three explosive vests and other weapons to conduct the attacks on February 16, the ISF added.