Dozens wounded in Beirut blast on the eve of Ramadan
Published Tuesday, July 9, 2013
Updated 2:46 pm: At least 53 people were wounded after a bomb exploded Tuesday morning in a parking lot in the densely-populated area of Dahiyeh in Beirut's southern suburb.
The bomb went off around 10:15 am local time.
Al-Manar television station said the explosion was from a car rigged with explosives stationed in a public parking lot of the Islamic Coop supermarket. The blast comes on a busy shopping day on the eve of the holy month of Ramadan.
Live footage from the station showed at least a dozen cars in the parking lot charred from the fire, as firefighters attempted to put out the flames.
Local news channels aired images of heavy black smoke rising over buildings on Muawad street in the Bir al-Abed neighborhood.
Residents of the area attempted to disperse the crowd gathered around the scene for fear of second bomb nearby, el-Nashra said.
Of the 53 people who were admitted to hospitals, 41 have been released while another 12 are still receiving treatment, Minister of Health Ali Khalil told reporters.
Politicians of all stripes quickly issued statements condemning the blast.
Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam called on Lebanese to remain "vigilant."
"The ugly crime that took place in the southern suburb of Beirut is part of an evil scheme targeting Lebanon's stability and the security of the Lebanese," he said in a statement. "It is a barefaced attempt to foment strife."
It remains unclear who was behind Tuesday's blast, but there is no shortage of suspects.
Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar pointed the finger at Israel, whose 34-day on Lebanon in 2006 reduced much of Dahiyeh to rubble.
But Salafi radicals affiliated with Syria's anti-government rebels are also suspected to have been behind a series of recent attacks on Lebanon.
The bomb was the second major attack on Beirut's southern suburbs, where Hezbollah maintains strong support, in recent weeks.
Suspected rebels have upped a campaign against Lebanon in what they claim is retaliation for Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian conflict.
In May, two rockets launched from hills above the capital struck Beirut's southern Chiyah district, injuring four Syrian workers.
Dozens of rockets fired from Syria have hit Lebanon in recent weeks, killing and wounding a number of people since they began over the course of the Syrian conflict, now over two years old.
And two roadside bombs detonated late last month targeted a convoy that reportedly belonged to Hezbollah in East Lebanon near the Syrian border.
The last deadly car bomb in Beirut occurred on 19 October 2012, when Internal Security Forces Brigadier General Wissam al-Hassan was killed in a massive blast in the Ashrafieh neighborhood.
In the summer of 2006, the Bir al-Abed area in Beirut's southern suburb received the heaviest air bombardment during the Israeli war on Lebanon.
One of the deadliest attacks in Bir al-Abed history was the 1985 attempted assassination of Sayyid Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah, which killed more than 80 civilians.
A string of bombings between 2004 and 2008 killed a number of high-profile military and political figures in Lebanon.