An explosion in a residential area of the Lebanese capital has caused several deaths and dozens of injuries.
A powerful car bomb in Beirut on Friday killed a top security official linked to the anti-Syria camp in Lebanon, further raising tensions over the war in the neighbouring country and drawing international reaction.
The head of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces, General Wissam al-Hassan, was an ally of Saad Hariri, leader of the opposition Future bloc.
The rush-hour bombing occurred in the Lebanese capital’s predominantly Christian district of Ashrafiyeh.
|Saad Hariri, head of the Future Movement|
“Who killed Wissam al-Hassan is as clear as day. Certainly the Lebanese people will not be silent over this heinous crime and I, Saad Hariri, promise that I will not be silent,” Saad Hariri said.
Asked by Lebanon’s Future Television who was responsible for the killing, Hariri replied “Bashar Hafez al-Assad”, giving the full name of the Syrian president.
|Hezbollah, Lebanese political group|
“Hezbollah sees in this heinous crime a sinful attempt to target stability and strike against national unity and calls on the security forces and judiciary to exert maximum efforts to uncover the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
|Walid Daouk, Lebanese Information Minister|
“It is a great tragedy what happened this afternoon in Ashrafiyeh. It cost the life of Wissam al-Hassan and many other innocent Lebanese,” Walid Daouk told Al Jazeera.
“We condemn strongly what happened. We have to stay unified, and we have to stay very calm to confront the plot coming to Lebanon.
“We are waiting to see what the police investigation will lead to … in our legal system, everyone is innocent until proven guilty, so let us wait to see what the investigation reveals.
“Once the investigation is final, we will then take the necessary measures.”
|Walid Jumblatt, head of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party|
“I accuse the regime of Bashar al-Assad and his colleagues, because Wissam al-Hassan discovered the plot of Michel Samaha a month ago.
“Now Bashar is taking revenge.
“There is only [one] guy to be accused, from the killing of Rafiq Hariri until now, and it is Bashar al-Assad. Nobody else rules Syria…
“I refuse the accusation [that Hezbollah would have a role in Hassan’s assassination] because those who are saying things like that are stupid as they would just enhance sectarian conflict.”
|Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General|
A UN statement read:
“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the bomb explosion today in the heart of Beirut. He conveys his condolences to the families of the victims, and to the government and people of Lebanon.
“He calls for this incident to be thoroughly investigated and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
“The Secretary-General calls on all Lebanese parties not to be provoked by this heinous terrorist act and to maintain their commitment to national unity.
“At a time of regional turbulence, it is of the utmost importance that all parties ensure calm and restraint in order to preserve peace and stability in Lebanon.”
“There is no justification for such violence. It was a car bomb. We have no reason to believe it was not terrorism. We condemn this act of terrorism,” said Victoria Nuland, state department spokesperson.
“The head of state calls on all Lebanese politicians to maintain unity in Lebanon and protect it from all destabilisation efforts, no matter where they come from,” President Francois Hollande’s office said in a statement.
“The attack in Beirut deserves the strongest condemnation for its absurd murderous violence,” Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi said in a statement, adding that the blast went against “efforts and commitments to maintaining peaceful coexistence in Lebanon”.
“It is to be hoped that this horrible event will not be an excuse for increased violence. Lebanon should represent, as the pope has said repeatedly, a message of peace and hope for its people and those of the entire region.”