Bomb explodes in Christian area north of Beirut

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The Independent Online

A bomb killed two people in a Christian commercial centre in Lebanon today. It was the a second attack on an anti-Syrian stronghold in five days and raised fears of sectarian violence intended to show a need for Syria's military presence in Lebanon.

A bomb killed two people in a Christian commercial centre in Lebanon today. It was the a second attack on an anti-Syrian stronghold in five days and raised fears of sectarian violence intended to show a need for Syria's military presence in Lebanon.

The explosion at the Alta Vista center in Jounieh, about 10 miles north of Beirut, is said to have killed a Sri Lankan and an Indian, believed to be cleaners. Four other people needed hospital treatment.

Nematallah Abi Nasr, an opposition lawmaker, called on his supporters not to be carried away by attempts to sow sectarian strife.

The 45-pound bomb is thought to have been placed in a leather bag at the building's back entrance, said a Lebanese security official, speaking on customary condition of anonymity. A police officer received cuts from falling debris as he was inspecting the damage in the shopping center.

On Saturday, a car bomb exploded in a Christian suburb of Beirut, wounding nine people and causing extensive damage.

Today's explosion came hours after a demonstration by about 1,000 pro-Syrian students who marched on the US Embassy, shouting "Death to America!" The students tore up a photograph of President George Bush and denounced what they said was Washington's interference in Lebanon.

The Bush administration has been at the fore of international demands for Syria to withdraw its remaining 10,000 troops from Lebanon in compliance with a UN Security Council resolution passed last year.

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