Tuesday 17 September 2019

At least 37 die in twin suicide attack on Beirut

Emergency staff and soldiers gather at the scene in Beirut
Emergency staff and soldiers gather at the scene in Beirut

Mariam Karouny in Beirut

At least 37 people were killed and more than 180 wounded in two suicide bomb blasts in a crowded district in Beirut's southern suburbs, a stronghold of the Shi'ite Muslim group Hezbollah.

The blasts occurred almost simultaneously and struck a Shi'ite community centre and a nearby bakery in the commercial and residential area of Borj al-Barajneh. A closely-guarded Hezbollah-run hospital is also nearby.

The bombings were the first attacks for more than a year in a stronghold of the Iran-backed movement, which has sent members to Syria to fight alongside president Bashar al-Assad's forces in the country's civil war.

Several bomb blasts struck Lebanon in June last year, in a spillover of violence linked to Syria.

The war in Lebanon's larger neighbour, with which it shares a border of more than 300km, has ignited sectarian strife in the multi-confessional country, leading to bombings and fighting between supporters of the opposing sides in Syria.

Hezbollah supports Assad while Sunni Islamists support rebels fighting against him and his Shi'ite backers.

Interior minister Nouhad Machnouk said a third suicide bomber had been killed by one of the explosions before he could detonate his own bomb. His body was found nearby.

Medics rushed to treat the wounded after the explosions, which damaged shopfronts and left the street stained with blood and littered with broken glass.

It was a blow to Hezbollah's tight security measures in the area, which were strengthened following bombings last year. The army set up checkpoints around the southern suburb entrances to boost security.

Irish Independent

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