53 injured as explosion in Beirut rocks Hezbollah stronghold

Huge car bomb blast in crowded shopping centre hits Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut as tensions rise over Syria

Beirut has been hit by a huge explosion, apparently targeting a stronghold of the Shi'ite Hezbollah militant group.

The blast, in Beir el-Abed, a suburb in the south of the capital, was reportedly caused by a car bomb left in a shopping centre, near offices of Hezbollah officials.

Security sources said at least 53 people had been wounded, though reportedly none seriously and there were no fatalities.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV station broadcast footage of a thick plume of smoke rising into the sky at the site of the blast as people rushed to take casualties to the hospital.

Images from the scene showed a crater covered by a blue tarpaulin and surrounded by wrecked cars. Hezbollah representatives with red caps and yellow armbands set up a security cordon around the blast scene along with Lebanese soldiers.

Gunmen from the organisation were seen arresting two men near the scene.

Shopping areas have been extremely crowded as it is the day before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins. A large fire is reportedly burning at the blast site, which was near a petrol station.

"This is the work of agents trying to create strife in Lebanon," Hezbollah parliamentary deputy Ali Meqdad said at the site of the explosion.

The interior minister, Marwan Charbel said the attack was "a criminal act aimed at destabilising the country and creating Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian strife". President Michel Suleiman said it reopened the "black pages" of Lebanon's civil war.

Some Syrian rebel groups have threatened to strike in Lebanon after Hezbollah joined the side of Syrian president Bashar Assad in the Syrian civil war.

In May, two rockets hit a Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut, wounding four people. The rockets struck hours after Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah vowed to help Assad to victory.

Hezbollah's fighters were instrumental in a recent regime victory when government forces regained control of the strategic town of Qusair near the Lebanese border.

Abu Ali, who lives near the scene of the explosion, blamed what he called Sunni terrorists for the attack.

"They want to terrorise us. The scumbags. These terrorists want us to abandon (the leader of Hezbollah) but we swear we will love him more, for all our lives. All we own, and our children we pledge to him."
 

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
News
An iceberg in Ilulissat, Greenland; researchers have been studying the phenomena of the melting glaciers and their long-term ramifications for the rest of the world (Getty)
news
Environment
environment
Arts and Entertainment
Hugh Jackman bears his claws and loses the plot in X-Men movie 'The Wolverine'
film
Arts and Entertainment
'Knowledge is power': Angelina Jolie has written about her preventive surgery
film
News
Zayn has become the first member to leave One Direction. 'I have to do what feels right in my heart,' he said
peopleWe wince at anguish of fans, but his 1D departure shows the perils of fame in the social media age
  • Get to the point
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Junior Web Designer - Client Liaison

£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...

Recruitment Genius: Service Delivery Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

Day In a Page

Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat
Saudi Arabia's airstrikes in Yemen are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Saudi airstrikes are fuelling the Gulf's fire

Arab intervention in Yemen risks entrenching Sunni-Shia divide and handing a victory to Isis, says Patrick Cockburn
Zayn Malik's departure from One Direction shows the perils of fame in the age of social media

The only direction Zayn could go

We wince at the anguish of One Direction's fans, but Malik's departure shows the perils of fame in the age of social media
Young Magician of the Year 2015: Meet the schoolgirl from Newcastle who has her heart set on being the competition's first female winner

Spells like teen spirit

A 16-year-old from Newcastle has set her heart on being the first female to win Young Magician of the Year. Jonathan Owen meets her
Jonathan Anderson: If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

If fashion is a cycle, this young man knows just how to ride it

British designer Jonathan Anderson is putting his stamp on venerable house Loewe
Number plates scheme could provide a licence to offend in the land of the free

Licence to offend in the land of the free

Cash-strapped states have hit on a way of making money out of drivers that may be in collision with the First Amendment, says Rupert Cornwell
From farm to fork: Meet the Cornish fishermen, vegetable-growers and butchers causing a stir in London's top restaurants

From farm to fork in Cornwall

One man is bringing together Cornwall's most accomplished growers, fishermen and butchers with London's best chefs to put the finest, freshest produce on the plates of some of the country’s best restaurants
Robert Parker interview: The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes

Robert Parker interview

The world's top wine critic on tasting 10,000 bottles a year, absurd drinking notes and New World wannabes
Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

Don't believe the stereotype - or should you?

We exaggerate regional traits and turn them into jokes - and those on the receiving end are in on it too, says DJ Taylor
How to make your own Easter egg: Willie Harcourt-Cooze shares his chocolate recipes

How to make your own Easter egg

Willie Harcourt-Cooze talks about his love affair with 'cacao' - and creates an Easter egg especially for The Independent on Sunday
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef declares barbecue season open with his twist on a tradtional Easter Sunday lamb lunch

Bill Granger's twist on Easter Sunday lunch

Next weekend, our chef plans to return to his Aussie roots by firing up the barbecue
Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

Joe Marler: 'It's the way I think the game should be played'

The England prop relives the highs and lows of last Saturday's remarkable afternoon of Six Nations rugby
Cricket World Cup 2015: Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?

Cricket World Cup 2015

Has the success of the tournament spelt the end for Test matches?
The Last Word: Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Justin Gatlin knows the price of everything, the value of nothing