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
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: Cleaner

£15000 - £16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: If you've got first class custo...

Recruitment Genius: Mobile Applications Developer / Architect - iOS and Android

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is a great opportunity to join a medium s...

Recruitment Genius: Telesales Account Executive - £40K OTE

£11830 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Working in a friendly, sales ta...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer

£15000 - £27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the UK's leading web des...

Day In a Page

Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

The science of swearing

What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

Africa on the menu

Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
10 best statement lightbulbs

10 best statement lightbulbs

Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

Dustin Brown

Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

Forget little green men

Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

Dying dream of Doctor Death

Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy