Friday, October 19, 2012

Car bomb rocks Beirut: At least eight dead, 78 injured (VIDEO, PHOTOS)


 

A car burns at the site of an explosion in Ashrafieh, east Beirut, October 19, 2012. (Reuters)

Source: Russia Today
http://rt.com/news/beirut-lebanon-explosion-police-797/

At least eight are dead and 78 wounded after a car bomb rocked the Lebanese capital of Beirut, MTV quotes civil defense sources as saying. The attack targeted a majority Christian neighborhood in the ethnically divided city.

At least four of the wounded transported to the city's Jeitawi Hospital were children.

The blast rocked the city’s Sassine Square in the predominately Christian Ashrafieh neighborhood on Friday. The explosive-laden car was detonated during rush hour at 3:00 p.m. local time as many students were leaving school, the Lebanese Daily Star reports. Plumes of black smoke were seen rising from the eastern part of the city.

Ambulances dispatched to the scene were taking the wounded to hospital.

At least seven cars were set on fire during the blast, an MTV correspondent on the ground said, and many more were battered by falling bricks. Considerable damage to the surrounding buildings has also been reported, with a tangled mess of wires, railings, and balconies crashing to the ground.

Human body parts were seen scattered on the roads. Flying glass from windows shattered during the blast wounded more than 20 people, the Lebanese National News Agency reports. Red Cross workers were seen evacuating bloodied casualties from a burning building.

The explosion occurred 200 meters from a local Kataeb political headquarters, better known in English as the Phalanges Party. The Phalanges are a right-wing Christian political-paramilitary organization which played a prominent role in the Lebanese Civil War.

The country's Interior Minister Marwan Sharbel arrived at the scene shortly after the blast.

It was the first car bombing to Beirut since January 2008, when Lebanon’s top anti-terrorism investigator was killed along with three others.

No one has taken responsibility for the attack.

 
Lebanese security forces and rescue workers gather at the site of an explosion in Beirut's Christian neighbourhood of Ashrafieh on October 19, 2012. (AFP Photo / Patrick Baz)

 
Lebanese firefighters douse burning vehicles at the site of a car bomb explosion in Beirut's Christian neighbourhood of Ashrafieh on October 19, 2012. (AFP Photo)

 
A woman is helped by a Lebanese soldier after an explosion in Ashafriyeh district, central Beirut, October 19, 2012. (Reuters)

Syrian spillover

Oxford historian Mark Almond told RT that there could be many likely perpetrators behind the bombing, but “the most likely explanation is that it’s linked to the Syrian crisis.”

“It’s not just that this is a kind of a natural process that there are overlaps of various groups over the borders of Syria into Lebanon, it’s also that it’s perhaps in the interest of one side to really internationalize this crisis,” he said.

Saying that the opposition has regularly called for international assistance and intervention, Almond believes “the more the neighbors of Syria seem to be destabilized by the fighting inside Syria… the easier it is to make an argument that some kind of international intervention must come about in order to keep the peace.”

The deadly civil war in neighboring Syria has pitted primarily Sunni rebels and the government of President Bashar al-Assad, who is from the Alawite Islamic sect.

Unresolved tensions between Lebanon’s Sunnis and Shiites communities stemming from the 1975-1990 Lebanese Civil War have been inflamed by the Syrian conflict, which had claimed an estimated 30,000 lives.

On Friday Syria condemned "the cowardly terrorist attack" in Beirut.

 
Lebanese forensic experts and security forces inspect the site of an explosion in Beirut's Christian neighbourhood of Ashrafieh on October 19, 2012. (AFP Photo / Anwar Amro)

 
Lebanese rescue workers and firefighters inspect the site of an explosion in Beirut's Christian neighbourhood of Ashrafieh on October 19, 2012. (AFP Photo / Anwar Amro)

 
Lebanese army soldiers secure the area at the site of an explosion in Ashrafieh, central Beirut, October 19, 2012. (Reuters)

 
A civil defence member helps a wounded man at the site of an explosion in Ashrafieh, central Beirut, October 19, 2012. (Reuters)

 
A wounded woman is carried at the site of an explosion in Ashrafieh, central Beirut, October 19, 2012. (Reuters)

 

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