Middle East

Suicide bomber strikes southern Beirut

Two people, including bomber, dead in attack inside minibus as Lebanon feels the fallout of neighbouring Syria's war.

Last updated: 03 Feb 2014 22:53
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A suicide bomber has detonated an explosive belt inside a minibus south of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, killing one person and wounding three more, medical and government officials say.

Lebanon is feeling the fallout from neighbouring Syria's civil war, as blasts regularly target areas sympathetic to the powerful Shia group Hezbollah, which has dispatched fighters to battle alongside the Syrian regime against a Sunni-dominated uprising.

"A man wearing an explosive belt boarded a public minibus in Choueifat and blew himself up," Marwan Charbel, interior minister, told Lebanon's Mayadeen television channel on Monday.

Choueifat lies south of Beirut, not far from the suburbs of the city which have been targeted in multiple bomb attacks in past months. It is home to a mixed Druze-Shia population.

Footage from the scene broadcast on television showed the mangled remains of a vehicle surrounded by shards of glass and other objects in the middle of the road.

Ayad Monzer, Red Cross's communications director, confirmed the attacker was killed in the latest blast, and two others were wounded.

"The bomber was killed, and two others were injured. A man, who is in critical condition, and a woman with moderate injuries," he told AFP news agency.

Monday's blast was the fifth to hit Lebanon this year. At least four people were killed on Saturday in a suicide bombing in the eastern town of Hermel.

Armed Sunni groups believed to be linked to those fighting in Syria have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, saying they will continue for as long as Hezbollah fights in Syria.

But while the attacks have apparently targeted Hezbollah, the victims have been civilians.

The explosions have created a climate of fear in the country, with residents increasingly nervous about unfamiliar cars and certain neighbourhoods.

Charbel told Lebanon's MTV television that the country had seen a jump in the theft of cars, which were being driven across the border to Syria, packed with explosives and returned to Lebanon.

The latest attack drew swift condemnation from the US and British embassies in Beirut.

"Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We condemn this act of terror," the US embassy in Beirut wrote on its Twitter account.

Tom Fletcher, Britain's ambassador, used his official Twitter account to describe the blast as a "callous effort to terrorise and divide".


Al Jazeera and agencies
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