Lebanon: 42 dead as car bomb explosions hit Tripoli

Lebanese Red Cross says at least 500 people here hurt

Twin car bomb explosions have killed at least 42 people outside two Sunni mosques in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli.

Footage aired on local television showed think, black smoke billowing over the city, with bodies lying by burning cars, reminding the country of its 1975-90 civil war.

The explosions came amid rising tensions in Lebanon resulting from neighbouring Syria's civil war, polarising the country along sectarian lines and between supporters and opponents of President Bashar al-Assad's regime.

This incident was the second such bombing in just over a week, showing the extent to which the country is being caught up in its neighbour's war.

Tripoli has previously seen clashes between Sunnis and Alawites, a Shiite offshoot sect to which Mr Assad belongs. But such violent explosions have been rare in recent years, with Friday's blasts marking the first time in years that such attacks have been made on Sunni areas. These were also the deadliest explosions in Tripoli since the civil war came to an end.

One of the blasts occurred outside the Taqwa mosque, where Sheik Salem Rafei, a Salafi cleric opposed to Lebanon's militant Shiite Hezbollah group, usually worships. It is not yet clear whether he was inside. According to accounts earlier in the day at leat 14 people were killed.

The second device went off roughly five minutes later in the Mina area of Tripoli near to the front gate of the Salam Mosque, making a 5 metre-wide crater outside. Video footage obtained by local news channel LBC shows how the explosion ripped through a wall of the mosque, showering people sitting on prayer mats with clouds of dust

The explosions were set to go off during Friday prayers.

The imams of both mosques are outspoken opponents of Mr Assad and Hezbollah. 

There has been no claim of responsibility for Friday's attacks, which raised the grim possibility of 'tit-for-tat' sectarian fighting between Sunnis and Shiites that has blighted Iraq since the 2003 invasion.

Hezbollah has condemned the bombings, calling it a "terrorist bombing" and part of a "criminal project that aims to sow the seeds of civil strife between the Lebanese and drag them into sectarian and ethnic infighting." The group released a strongly worded statement expressing, "utmost solidarity and unity with our brothers in the beloved city of Tripoli."

The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon has condemned the bombings and called on all parties to exercise calm and restraint. 
 

Additional reporting by AP and Reuters

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Life and Style
love + sex
Arts and Entertainment
Victoria Wood, Kayvan Novak, Alexa Chung, Chris Moyles
tvReview: No soggy bottoms, but plenty of other baking disasters on The Great Comic Relief Bake Off
Sport
Ashley Young celebrates the winner for Manchester United against Newcastle
footballNewcastle 0 Man United 1: Last minute strike seals precious victory
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
Seth Rogan is one of America’s most famous pot smokers
filmAmy Pascal resigned after her personal emails were leaked following a cyber-attack sparked by the actor's film The Interview
News
Benjamin Netanyahu and his cartoon bomb – the Israeli PM shows his ‘evidence’
people
Arts and Entertainment
80s trailblazer: comedian Tracey Ullman
tv
News
i100
Life and Style
A statue of the Flemish geographer Gerard Kremer, Geradus Mercator (1512 - 1594) which was unveiled at the Geographical Congree at Anvers. He was the first person to use the word atlas to describe a book of maps.
techThe 16th century cartographer created the atlas
Arts and Entertainment
Stephen Tompkinson is back as DCI Banks
tvReview: Episode one of the new series played it safe, but at least this drama has a winning formula
News
i100
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: UI / UX Designer

£25000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This firm are focussed on assis...

Recruitment Genius: General Processor

£7 per hour: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a General Processor ...

Recruitment Genius: Outbound Sales Executive - B2B

£18000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A great opportunity has arisen ...

Recruitment Genius: Online Sales and Customer Services Associate

£14000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time and Part time positio...

Day In a Page

War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot