Explosion rocks Lebanese capital

Suicide bomber blows up car near a security forces checkpoint, injuring 15 people and damaging a nearby cafe.

The explosion was caused by a car bomb near a cafe that was showing the World Cup [Reuters]

A suicide bomber has blown up his car in southern Beirut near a security forces checkpoint, killing himself and damaging a nearby cafe, security sources said.

Lebanon’s health minister said the blast on Monday night also injured 15 people.

The explosion was reported to have taken place in a district of the Lebanese capital mainly inhabited by supporters of the Shia group Amal, an ally of the Hezbollah movement.

It was the second explosion in a week. On Friday, a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden car near a police checkpoint in eastern Lebanon, killing a policeman and wounding several other people.

The bombings, coupled with the arrest in Beirut of alleged militant sleeping cells on Friday, sparked fears of renewed violence in a country which has been buffeted by the conflict in neighboring Syria.

Syria’s civil war has spilled into neighboring Lebanon on multiple occasions and inflamed sectarian tensions. A series of car bombs have struck Shia areas across Lebanon, killing dozens of people.

However, the last explosion to hit Lebanon before Friday’s occurred on March 29, when a suicide bomber in an explosives-laden car targeted a Lebanese army checkpoint near the Syrian border, killing three people.

Hard-line Sunni groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks against Shia areas, saying they are meant to punish Hezbollah for fighting alongside the Assad regime in Syria.

After Friday’s bombing, troops began enforcing strict measures at all entrances to Beirut’s southern suburbs, a Hezbollah stronghold, setting up checkpoints and searching cars.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies