A car bomb exploded in the stronghold of Hezbollah in south Beirut, killing four people and wounding nine in the latest attack on the Iranian-backed group since it acknowledged joining the conflict in neighboring Syria.
The rush-hour blast in the Lebanese capital’s densely populated suburbs is the third to target that neighborhood since July. It occurred about 200 meters from Hezbollah’s political office, next to a building that was among the first to be repaired after the group’s 2006 war with Israel, Al Manar television said. Ambulances rushed to the scene of the explosion as thick smoke rose from the wreckage. The state-run National News Agency reported the death toll.
The attack is the latest to underline deep divisions in Lebanon caused by the civil war in Syria, which pits mostly Sunni rebels against President Bashar al-Assad, an Alawite whose sect is an offshoot of Shiite Islam. It came a week after former Lebanese Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah, a senior Sunni Muslim figure, was assassinated in a car bombing in Beirut.
Violence has surged in Lebanon since militants belonging to the Shiite Hezbollah militant group said they had joined Assad’s side in the civil war. Attackers have targeted Hezbollah strongholds in Beirut and the Bekaa Valley, and the Iranian embassy, while twin explosions ripped through Sunni Muslim mosques in the northern city of Tripoli.
Hezbollah’s chief Hassan Nasrallah has blamed the attacks against the group of Sunni radicals. The twin blasts against the Iranian mission in Beirut in November were claimed by the al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades. Lebanese authorities have informed Saudi authorities of the capture of Majed al-Majed, a Saudi militant who allegedly led the brigades, Al Riyadh newspaper reported today.
Iran wants to aid Lebanon in its investigation into al-Majed because the attacks were claimed by the brigades, Iranian ambassador Ghzanfar Asl Roknabadi told LBCI TV today.
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