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Lebanon: Recent bomb blasts

Tuesday 7 January 2014, by siawi3

Source: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2532747/At-five-people-killed-suspected-car-bomb-attack-Beirut-Syrias-civil-war-continues-spread-neighbour.html

At least five people killed in suspected car bomb attack in Beirut as Syria’s civil war continues to spread to its neighbour
The explosion rocked the Shiite Hezbollah stronghold in the Lebanese city
Twenty people were also wounded and cars were set on fire in the attack
It comes a week after a car bombing killed a prominent Sunni politician

By DAILY MAIL REPORTER

PUBLISHED: 17:22 GMT, 2 January 2014 | UPDATED: 20:58 GMT, 2 January 2014

At least five people have been killed during Beirut’s rush hour today in a suspected car bomb as Syria’s civil war continues to spread to neighbouring Lebanon.

The explosion rocked a stronghold of the Shiite Hezbollah group in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital, setting cars ablaze and sending a column of black smoke above the city skyline.

The nature of the explosion that hit the Haret Hreik neighbourhood was not immediately clear, but a Lebanese security official said it appeared to be caused by a car bomb.

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Rush hour blast: At least five people have been killed in Beirut today in a suspected car bomb as Syria’s civil war continues to spread into neighbouring Lebanon

If confirmed as a bombing, it will be the latest in a wave of attacks to hit Lebanon in recent months as the civil war in Syria increasingly spills over into its smaller neighbour.

The attacks have targeted both Sunni and Shiite neighbourhoods, further stoking sectarian tensions that are already running high because of the war next door.

Tension builds: People gather at the bombing site which targeted both Sunni and Shiite neighbourhoods stoking sectarian tensions that are already running high

Lebanon’s Health Ministry said at least five people were killed and 20 wounded in the explosion, which left the mangled wreckage of cars in the street and blew out the windows of store fronts.

Images broadcast on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV showed firefighters putting out the smouldering hulks of several cars that had been set ablaze. The footage showed at least one building that had part of its facade blown off and several neighbouring buildings were also damaged.

Al-Manar said the explosion occurred ‘a few hundred metres [218 yards] from the politburo of Hezbollah’. It said the political office was not the target of the blast.

Desperate: A man carried an injured woman from the blast site as troops tried to cordon off the area to keep the angry crowds away from the scene

Hezbollah security agents, as well as Lebanese troops, were trying to cordon off the area to keep the angry crowds away from the blast site.

Ali Oleik, an accountant who works in a nearby office building, said: ‘Suddenly the whole area went bright and we started running away.

‘I saw two bodies on the street, one of a woman and another of a man on a motorcycle who was totally deformed.’

String of attacks: A man carries an injured woman to an ambulance after another explosion in downtown Beirut on December 27 killed six and injured at least 15

Authorities brought out bomb-sniffing dogs and at one point announced that there might be another bomb, setting the crowd scattering in panic from the area.

The explosion comes a week after a car bombing in downtown Beirut killed prominent Sunni politician Mohammed Chatah who had been critical of Syrian President Bashar Assad and his Hezbollah allies.

Hezbollah’s once seemingly impenetrable bastion of support - Beirut’s southern suburbs - also has been hit several times in recent months.

The Haret Hreik neighbourhood where Thursday’s explosion took place is close to the Beir el-Abed district where a powerful car bomb killed nearly 20 people in August.

The attacks raise the spectre of a sharply divided Lebanon being pulled further into the Syrian conflict, which is being fought on increasingly sectarian lines pitting Sunnis against Shiites.

Syria-based Sunni rebels and militant Islamist groups fighting to topple Assad have threatened to target Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon in retaliation for intervening on behalf of his regime in the conflict.