A car bomb ripped through a stronghold of the Hezbollah terror group in a southern suburb of Beirut Thursday afternoon.
Lebanon’s Health Ministry said at least five people were killed and 20 wounded in the explosion, which left the mangled wreckage of cars in the street and blew out the windows of store fronts in the Haret Hreik neighborhood.
Images broadcast on Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV showed firefighters putting out the smoldering hulks of several cars that had been set ablaze. The footage showed at least one building that had part of its facade blown off, and several neighboring buildings were also damaged.
Al-Manar said the explosion occurred “a few hundred meters (yards) from the politburo of Hezbollah.” It said the political office was not the target of the blast.
Hezbollah security agents as well as Lebanese troops were trying to cordon off the area to keep the angry crowds away from the blast site.
“Suddenly, the whole area went bright and we started running away,” Ali Oleik, an accountant who works in a nearby office building, told The Associated Press. “I saw two bodies on the street, one of a woman and another of a man on a motorcycle who was totally deformed.”
Authorities brought out bomb sniffing dogs, and at one point announced that there might be another bomb, setting the crowd scattering in panic from the area.
— أماني (@Amani_Lebanon) January 2, 2014
The city has been rocked by a series of bombings over the past several months, thought to be spillover violence related to Hezbollah’s support of Syrian President Bashar Assad.
On Friday, Lebanese politician Mohammed Chatah was killed along with six others in a bomb in the capital. Chatah was a critic of Syria and Hezbollah.
On November 19, the Iranian Embassy in southern Beirut was hit by a car bomb.
In mid-August, 27 people were killed and some 300 injured in a explosion in the Rweiss district in south Beirut. A month earlier, more than 50 were wounded in a similar attack.