Car bomb explodes in Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut

Residents gather at the site of an explosion in Beirut's southern suburb neighborhood of Bir al-Abed on July 9, 2013. (AFP)

A car bomb exploded on Tuesday in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a stronghold of Lebanon’s Shiite militant group Hezbollah, wounding at least 53 people, the health minister said.

"The number of people injured in the explosion reaches 53," Ali Hassan Khalil said, adding that 41 were transported to a hospital and 12 were treated for minor injuries.

Meanwhile, Al Arabiya's correspondent reported that there were no fatalities.

Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar said that no member of the Shiite party was hurt in the explosion.

Al-Manar television – which belongs to Hezbollah – said that the car bomb was in a parking lot near an Islamic center.

The Lebanese militant group condoned off the area, while a black cloud of smoke rose. Al Arabiya correspondent reported that journalists were not allowed to get near the sight of the blast.

Residents attack Lebanon's interior minister

Lebanon’s caretaker interior minister inspected the site of the explosion, condemning it as a “criminal act."

"One cannot describe with words [what we just] saw," said Marwan Charbel. "The attack aims to create sectarian strife between Sunnis and Shiites."

He said that it would be unacceptable to either sect “no matter what happens.”

There is no “preliminary data” so far, and the situation “is left for security and judicial authorities to look into,” Charbel said.

“The Lebanese government must, before anything else, compensate for the serious damage [the blast caused] and aid people,” he added.

However, the minister was attacked by residents of the area, and his bodyguards responded by shooting in the air, said Al-Arabiya’s correspondent. Charbel was reportedly trapped in a building.

He left using a backdoor, reported a correspondent for Lebanese channel MTV.

Hezbollah in the Syrian conflict

The explosion comes amid rising tension following Hezbollah’s intervention in the Syrian conflict.

Hezbollah militants have been fighting alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebels, most of whom are Sunni Muslims.

A rebel Free Syrian Army spokesman denied emerging reports that Syrian rebels could be behind Tuesday's explosion.

"The FSA condemns any explosion, whether it is in Syria or in Lebanon," spokesman Louay Almokdad told Al Arabiya television.

At least 90,000 people – mostly civilians – have been killed in the Syrian conflict, which erupted in march 2011.

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Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:41 - GMT 06:41
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