Several killed and scores wounded in Beirut suburb explosion
Published Thursday, August 15, 2013
Updated at 11:00pm: An explosion rocked the southern suburbs of Beirut Thursday, killing at least 14 people and injuring 212, Lebanese media reported.
The blast occurred at a busy intersection between the heavily populated neighborhoods of Roueiss and Bir al-Abed at around 6:20pm, the Lebanese National News Agency said.
A Lebanese army statement said that the Roueiss explosion was caused by a car bomb, adding that an investigation was already under way.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati called for a national day of mourning on Friday, and called for a meeting of the Higher Defense Council, news website Naharnet reported.
Civil defense units rushed to the scene to rescue nearby residents from a fire caused by the explosion. The fire was contained after two hours.
A video was posted online less than half and hour after the explosion, claiming responsibility for the attack.
In the video, a hooded man flanked by two other weapon-toting men wearing hoods claims the Aisha Brigades for External Mission were responsible for the Roueiss blast.
Al-Akhbar could not confirm the veracity of the claim.
Lebanese President Michel Sleiman condemned the attack, saying that "the criminal act targets Lebanon, as a whole, and not just the suburb region,"
Prime Minister-designate Tamam Salam called the bombing a "barbaric act" targeting innocent civilians, as well as Lebanon's security, stability and national unity. He called on the Lebanese people's to show cohesiveness and solidarity, the NNA reported.
Beirut's southern suburbs have been the target of several attacks in the past several months.
On July 9, the eve of Ramadan, a car bomb injured at least 53 people in Bir Abed. A little known Syrian rebel group called the Special Forces 313 Brigade claimed responsibility for the blast.
In May, two rockets landed in the suburb neighborhood of Chiyah, wounding four people.
The Roueiss blast coincides with the anniversary of the end of the 2006 war with Israel.