Twin car bombings killed at least 47 people and wounded hundreds on Friday in Lebanon’s second largest city Tripoli. The attack was the bloodiest since the country’s 15-year civil war, which ended in 1990.
The two bombs were placed outside mosques and exploded within minutes of each other at the end of Friday prayers. It is the latest violence to hit the country, which has spilled over from neighbouring Syria. Both Sunni and Shia have gone to help opposing sides fighting in Syria’s civil war.
The first explosion today hit outside the Al-Taqwa Mosque, home of the hardline Salafi preacher Sheikh Salem al-Rafei. Mr Rafei has called on Sunni Muslims to join the jihad in Syria. An attempt was made on his life outside the same mosque earlier in the year. The sheikh, who was leading prayers at the time of the blast, was said to be unharmed. The second explosion shook the streets of al-Mina, an affluent harbour area home to moderates, businessmen and politicians live. The bomb was placed outside the Al-Salam Mosque.
“I came here and saw the catastrophe. Bloodied people were running in the street, several other dead, bodies were scattered on the ground,” said Samir Darwish, a 47-year-old contractor who rushed to the scene upon hearing the blast in nearby Tripoli square. “It looked like doomsday, death was everywhere,” he added. The blast was opposite the house of former Internal Security Forces chief Ahraf Rifi.
Although nobody has claimed responsibility, it was perceived as an attack on the Sunni community, with residents blaming Bashar al-Assad and Hezbollah.
The blasts come in the wake of two bombings in the Hezbollah strongholds of Dahiyeh in as many months. Hezbollah condemned today’s attack, saying they were an attempt to fan the flames of sectarianism. “We consider this the completion of an effort to plunge Lebanon into chaos and destruction,” it said.