Beirut: explosion rocks Hezbollah stronghold

Beirut has been the scene of a series of bombings in recent months

Mustapha Ajbaili
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A car bomb rocked the southern district of the Lebanese capital Beirut on Thursday, leaving at least five people dead and more than 60 wounded, Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil told reporters.

The explosion took place in a crowded street in the Hezbollah stronghold of Beirut near a building that belongs to the militant group’s al-Manar television channel.


The channel reported that the explosives loaded in the 4x4 vehicle were “not very heavy,” but the casualties are likely to be high because the blast struck a densely populated area known as Haret Hreik. Security sources said that the explosives weighed 30 kilograms.

Hezbollah said the blast did not target any of its leaders, Lebanese media reported.

Lebanese security forces have recently dismantled several car bombs in the area but did not make any public announcement to avoid spreading fear among residents, Al Arabiya correspondent Adnan Ghalmoush said.

Lebanese Foreign Minister Adnan Mansour told Al Arabiya News Channel that the explosion is part of a wave of terrorist attacks in the country, urging the international community to help “dry up the sources of terrorism.”

Victims of involvement

Future bloc member MP Mohammad Qabbani described the explosion as a terrorist attack, saying his party condemns it.

Former Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said: “Innocent people in Dahieh are the victim of involvement in foreign wars,” in reference to Hezbollah’s involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Mustafa Allouch, another Future lawmaker, said the explosion is “a message to Hezbollah to cease implicating Lebanon in the Syrian civil war.”

Progressive Socialist Party leader MP Walid Jumblatt called for a unity government and avoiding political polarization that can lead to violence.

Jumblatt dismissed the possibility of renewed civil war in the country. “The civil war is not doable in Lebanon,” he told Al Arabiya News Channel.

‘Point of no return’

Hisham Jaber, a military expert, said such explosions will not force Hezbollah to withdraw from Syria because fighting in the neighboring country has reached a “point of no return.”

Hezbollah’s involvement in Syria is “understandable” given the growing terrorist threat there, Jaber added.

In August, the Hezbollah stronghold district of South Beirut was hit by a car bomb explosion, which killed more than 25 people and wounded 335.

The explosion came a month after another car bomb wounded 53 people in the same district.

Last week, another car bomb ripped through the capital, killing six people and wounding over 50, including prominent former Lebanese minister Mohammad Chatah, who hailed from the March 14 coalition that opposes Hezbollah and the Syrian regime.

Members of the bloc indirectly blamed Hezbollah and the Syrian regime of carrying out the attack.

Speaking at Chatah’s funeral, March 14 coalition member and former premier Fouad Siniora said that Lebanon should be freed from Hezbollah’s weapons.

“We have decided to liberate the country of the occupation of illegitimate weapons to preserve its independence, its sovereignty and its civil peace,” said Siniora.

“We have decided to engage with the Lebanese people in peaceful, civil and democratic resistance,” said Siniora, adding the “peaceful battle” would begin soon but without giving any details.

Political analyst Ali Sbeiti described the security situation in Lebanon as “open and no longer related to the internal political disputes.”

“This is now related to Syrian conflict and the regional rivalries,” he said.

“I think the Lebanese people are unable to control the security situation, which is controlled by regional powers,” Sbeiti added.

He said political talks or reconciliation in Lebanon cannot improve the security condition because security is “now above political power.”

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