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Cairo: Kuwaiti authorities have arrested eight new suspects in connection with investigations into a cell accused of having links to the Lebanese Iran-allied Hezbollah movement, according to local media.

The latest arrests raise to 16 the total number of persons detained so far on suspicion of offering financial support to Hezbollah, Al Qabas reported. The new suspects were arrested after chats had been found in the mobile phones of suspects earlier detained in connection to the case, the report said.

The paper quoted what it termed as “well-informed” sources, who said authorities will investigate sources of the donations and whether they were deliberately raised for Hezbollah.

The suspects denied in investigations accusations that they supported Hezbollah, saying they are members of a donation committee offering support for orphanage institutions in Lebanon and other countries.

Prosecutors Tuesday interrogated the suspects after investigations revealed they had collected money in support of Hezbollah in violation of Kuwait’s anti-money laundry and terrorism laws, Al Anba reported.

Last week, another Kuwaiti newspaper reported that authorities had arrested a four-member cell linked to Hezbollah.

The arrests were made after authorities received a security report from an unspecified “sisterly” country, Al Seyassah newspaper added, citing security sources.

The four suspects include a son of a Kuwaiti ex-lawmaker and a brother of another, it said.

They were questioned by the Kuwaiti State Security Service on charges including money laundering for Hezbollah and encouraging young Kuwaitis to collaborate with the Lebanese movement, carry out terror acts and smuggle drugs in Syria and Yemen.

The paper said the suspects had admitted in investigations that they had collected donations in mosques in Kuwait without approval from authorities.

The case comes amid a sharp diplomatic crisis between the Gulf countries, including Kuwait, with Lebanon after its Information Minister George Kurdahi made remarks supporting Yemen’s Iran-aligned Houthi rebels.