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Middle East
Casualties in Beirut suburb explosion
Blast north of Lebanese capital kills two people, as interior minister says investigations do not point to sabotage.
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2011 08:43
Two people were killed in the explosion in a car park in Antelias, a suburb of Beirut [AFP]

A blast in a northern suburb of Beirut, the Lebanese capital, has killed at least two people, according to a police official.

"Two people were killed in the blast that took place in a parking lot, near a commercial centre," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The two victims were identified as Ihsan Dia and Hassan Nassar, the AFP news agency reported.

Lebanese television said Dia and Nassar were believed to have been handling explosives inside their vehicle when the blast went off in Antelias.

Marwan Charbel, the interior minister, told local news channel OTV that the two young men who were killed were car dealers, and that the blast had not targeted a judge, as some earlier reports had suggested.

"Our investigation so far does not point to an act of sabotage," he said.

Security officials said it was not immediately clear if the bomb went off by mistake or whether it had a timer.

"They were either holding the bomb or had explosives strapped to their bodies when the blast occurred," said one official. "Their bodies were torn apart."

"We also believe they were sitting inside a car or standing right next to it," he said.

A witness told AFP he saw rescuers carrying away from the site a man whose arm and leg had been torn off in the explosion.

A pool of blood could be seen on the ground in the car park.

Earlier violence

Earlier in the day, a police official said a car belonging to the son of Lebanese judge Albert Serhan was in the car park when the blast went off but initial reports were unclear as to whether it was targeted specifically.

"I don't think we were targeted and the car just happened to be parked there," Judge Serhan was quoted by LBC, a local television channel, as saying.

"My son is an engineer and he parks his car in that lot, along with his colleagues, near their office," judge Albert Serhan told AFP.

"I have never been threatened nor does anyone in my family dabble in politics," he added.

The blast occurred at about 11am local time. Army and police forces rushed to the site along with Red Cross medics and cordoned off the area.

Lebanon was rocked by a wave of assassinations from 2005 to 2008 which killed anti-Syrian journalists and politicians.

Rafiq Hariri, former prime minister of Lebanon, was killed in a massive Beirut bombing on February 14, 2005, along with 22 others.

The Hariri assassination led to a wave of mass protests which, combined with international pressure, forced Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in April 2005, ending a 29-year deployment.

It also led to the establishment of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon in 2007, created to capture and try those responsible for the murder.

Source:
Agencies
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