MIDDLE EAST

At least 42 killed, hundreds wounded in Lebanon twin explosions

People run to help outside one of two mosques hit by explosions in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, August 23, 2013. (Reuters)

At least 42 people were killed and 500 were injured in Lebanon on Friday after two car bombs exploded outside two Sunni Mosques in the northern city of Tripoli, Lebanese Red Cross reported.

The blasts, the biggest and deadliest in Tripoli since the end of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war, struck as Friday prayers ended in the largely Sunni Muslim city, according to Reuters.

Mustafa Aloush, a politician from the Sunni Future Movement, told Al Arabiya that six people were declared dead in the hospital where he was sent to assess the severity of the situation.

Aloush said emergency response teams were transferring other injured people to other hospitals, as the hospital he was in could not accommodate more people.

They came a week after a huge explosion killed at least 30 people in a stronghold in Beirut of the Shi’ite Muslim militant movement Hezbollah.

Friday’s twin explosions in the Sunni Muslim majority city were five minutes apart.

Initially, al-Taqwa mosque, located in the center of the city and near the home of outgoing Prime Minister Najib Mikati, was hit by a blast. Mikati is currently outside the country.

“I see seven bodies inside several burned cars,” one witness, speaking from near the al-Taqwa mosque, told Reuters.

The second blast hit al-Salam mosque near Tripoli’s port.

Ambulances rushed to the scene of the Tripoli blasts and heavy black smoke covered the skyline of the Mediterranean coastal city.

Television footage showed a large crater outside the Salam mosque, and a large blast zone of crushed and burning cars. People ran through the streets, some of them carrying the bloodied bodies of the wounded, Reuters reported.

Two corpses could be seen on the ground and apartment blocks had their windows and balconies smashed.

Afterwards, angry gunmen took to the streets of Tripoli and fired in the air. Near the blast sites, angry men threw rocks at Lebanese soldiers examining the aftermath.

A recent resurgence of sectarian violence in Lebanon has been stoked by the war in adjacent Syria, where President Bashar al-Assad is fighting a largely Sunni-led rebellion and Hezbollah has sent fighters into combat on his side.

(With AFP and Reuters)

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Last Update: Friday, 23 August 2013 KSA 21:08 - GMT 18:08
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