Beirut reels in aftermath of massive car bomb
A POWERFUL car bomb tore through a bustling south Beirut neighbourhood that is a stronghold of Hezbollah on Thursday, killing at least 22 and trapping dozens of others in an inferno of burning cars and buildings in the bloodiest attack yet on Lebanese civilians linked to Syria’s civil war. The blast is the second in just more than a month to hit one of the Shiite militant group’s bastions of support, and the deadliest in decades. It raises the spectre of a sharply divided Lebanon being pulled further into the conflict next door, which is being fought on increasingly sectarian lines pitting Sunnis against Shiites.
Dozens of ambulances rushed to the site of the explosion and firefighters used cranes and ladders to try to evacuate terrified residents from burning buildings. Some fled to the rooftops of buildings and civil defence workers were still struggling to bring them down to safety several hours after the explosion.
The blast appeared to be an attempt to sow fear among the group’s civilian supporters and did not target any known Hezbollah facility or figure. Lebanon’s interior minister said the death toll had risen to 22 by Friday morning.
Hezbollah’s Al Manar TV and Red Cross official George Kattaneh said more than 280 were wounded. The army, in a statement, said the explosion was caused by a car bomb.
It called on residents to co-operate with security forces trying to evacuate people trapped in their homes. Syria’s conflict has spilled across the border into its neighbour on multiple occasions in the past two years.
Fire from Syria has hit border villages, while clashes between Lebanese factions backing different sides have left scores dead.... Read the full, comprehensive news article and discuss at Business Day