Lebanon marked a day of national mourning after two blasts killed as many as 50 people during Friday prayers in the northern city of Tripoli.
The explosions near two Sunni mosques also wounded 350, the official National News Agency cited Mayor Nader Ghazal as saying. At least 45 died and another 500 were injured, Lebanon’s Daily Star said today.
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced the decision to observe public mourning in memory of the victims, NNA reported late yesterday.
The bombings at Tripoli, which shares its name with the Libyan capital, occurred at a time of heightened tensions between Sunni and Shiite communities as the sectarian war in Syria spills into Lebanon. Tripoli has seen clashes between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The two mosques hit yesterday are led by clerics who have been supportive of the mostly Sunni rebels seeking to topple Assad, who is Alawite, an offshoot of Shiite Islam. One blast targeted Al Taqwa Mosque and the second hit near the entrance of the Salam Mosque.
The two blasts were the third and fourth to hit Lebanon since July. The previous two occurred in the Shiite militant Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut’s southern suburb. The first wounded more than 50, while the second killed at least 27 people.
Hezbollah has called the latest attacks a “terrorist” act aiming at “dragging” the Lebanese into a civil war, according to an e-mailed statement. “Hezbollah expresses extreme pain” for the loss of life in Tripoli,’’ it said.