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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, October 23, 2018


Six dead in Beirut blast near Hezhollah hub

The terrorist explosion targeted a densely populated residential area

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BEIRUT, Lebanon - At least six people were killed and dozens wounded when a car bomb blast ripped apart a neighborhood populated by many supporters of Hezbollah in southern Beirut Thursday, officials said.

"The toll from the terrorist explosion in Haret Hreik is six killed and 65 wounded," Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said.

The blast hit the busy Al-Arid Street commercial district. Panicked residents scurried around the streets as Al-Manar broadcast warnings to leave the area for fear of further bombs.

This is the fourth attack to hit the Hezbollah bastion since the Shia group announced its intervention in Syria last year.

Officials said that the Thursday bombing appeared to be the latest in a series of reprisal attacks over the civil war in neighboring Syria.

Hezbollah has sent fighters to aid Syrian government forces but its opponents support the insurgency in the neighbouring country.

Weeks ago a twin suicide bombing killed 25 people at the Iranian embassy in the same area.

Lebanese television showed scenes of chaos in a residential area, with smoke rising above charred cars, crowds of people pushing past one another and ambulances and fireengines arriving.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar television aired footage of bystanders scrambling to douse burning vehicles in a car park beneath a building whose facade had been gutted.

"The terrorist explosion targeted a densely populated residential area, just 150 to 200 metres (yards) away from Hezbollah's political bureau," Al-Manar reported, but said the building was not thought to have been the target.

The district is symbolic for Hezbollah, which once based many of its leadership institutions in the area. Al-Manar's studios were once just 200 metres away.

Media reports said that the explosion was caused by an explosives-packed four-wheel-drive vehicle.

President Michel Sleiman said the car bomb had been planted "by the same hand that plants terrorism, killing and destruction everywhere in Lebanon."

In a statement, he also called for solidarity among the Lebanese and dialogue among the country's divided leaders, and called on the security services to double their efforts and bring the perpetrators to justice.

Caretaker prime minister Najib Mikati said "the hand of terrorism does not differentiate between us, and it does not want stability for this country. Rather, it is planning a despicable conspiracy to drown the Lebanese in sectarian strife."

The US embassy tweeted: "We condemn today's terrorist bombing in Dahieh Beirut. Our condolences to the victims and their families."

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