Two suicide bombings in a predominantly Shia residential area of southern Beirut have killed at least 41 people and injured 200 others, according to the Lebanese health ministry.

The explosions took place on Thursday in the Burj el-Barajneh area, located off a main highway leading to Beirut's airport.

Burj el-Barajneh, a well-known commercial and residential area, famous for its shops and coffee shops, suffered extensive damage from the two blasts.

The attacks came at a busy time in the evening when the streets were full of families gathering after work. Security forces have urged residents in the area to stay away from the targeted sites.

Local media reported that the body of a third suicide bomber was found at the scene of the bombings.

Witnesses said that there were only minutes between the two blasts.

"I was standing outside my store with my friend when the first explosion happened," one resident, who was injured in the explosion, told Al Jazeera.

"He was martyred in the explosion. As I was trying to move him, the second explosion happened."

"This is not an area where Hezbollah has security offices or anything. This is an area where there are children and women and normal people just doing their shopping," said another witness.

"At the same time, we know Hezbollah is defending us and is protecting everyone. [These explosions] will not scare us."

Residents shocked

Much of southern Beirut is a Hezbollah stronghold and witnessed a string of deadly suicide explosions in 2014 claimed by al-Qaeda affiliates.

Residents who talked to Al Jazeera expressed shock that such deadly explosions were taking place in the southern suburbs again.

Those interviewed said that they were concerned that there will be a return of the tense period of insecurity in which they lived under during the last spate of bombings.

Kamel Wazne, a Lebanese political analyst, told Al Jazeera that the bombings came at a time when major offensives [backed by Hezbollah] were taking place in Syria against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and al-Nusra. 

"This is probably just to remind Hezbollah there are other [groups] who can take revenge... It might be, again, the beginning of a circle of violence for Beirut."

Source: Al Jazeera