The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Breaking News

August 16, 2013

Death toll in Lebanon bombing rises to 22

BEIRUT — Lebanese forensic experts collected evidence Friday at the scene of a massive explosion in a southern suburb of Beirut that killed 22 people and wounded more than 300, the deadliest blast in the area in nearly three decades.

Security officials said they were investigating the possibility that Thursday's blast in Hezbollah's bastion of support was carried out by a suicide bomber.

Lebanese troops cordoned the area of the explosion where more than a dozen charred cars were scattered on the street amid heavily damaged buildings, preventing residents and shop owners from entering.

Some residents vowed that such attacks will only strengthen their support of the militant Hezbollah group and its leader.

Thursday's car bomb struck a crowded street in the Rweiss district in Beirut's southern suburbs, an overwhelmingly Shiite area and stronghold of Hezbollah. The explosion sent a massive plume of black smoke billowing into the sky, set several cars and buildings ablaze and trapped dozens of residents in their homes for hours.

The explosion occurred about 100 meters (yards) away from the Sayyed al-Shuhada complex where Hezbollah usually holds rallies.

Thursday's blast came a day before Hezbollah's leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah was scheduled to give a speech marking the end of the monthlong 2006 war with Israel. Nasrallah was expected to address the explosion in the speech later Friday.

The bombing was the second in just more than a month to hit one of the Shiite group's bastions of support, and the deadliest since 1985 when a blast in the area killed 80 people. Many people in Lebanon see the attacks as retaliation for Hezbollah's armed support for President Bashar Assad in neighboring Syria's civil war.

The group's fighters played a key role in a recent regime victory in the town of Qusair near the Lebanese border, and Syrian activists say Hezbollah guerrillas are now aiding a regime offensive in the besieged city of Homs.

Syrian rebels have threatened to retaliate against Hezbollah for intervening on behalf of the Assad regime. Thursday's car bombing raises the worrying specter of Lebanon being pulled further into the Syrian civil war, which is being fought on increasingly sectarian lines pitting Sunnis against Shiites.

"We will always support Sheik Hassan," said Hassane Qassem, a 56-year-old retired soldier whose house was damaged by the blast. Neither he nor his wife were hurt, but he said their domestic help from Bangladesh suffered minor head injuries and was rushed to a nearby hospital.

"I entered the bathroom and the whole building shook," said the man standing about 50 meters (yards) from his home. He said he helped rush wounded people to ambulances before he entered the barber shop of his friend in the building.

"I found my neighbor and friend Hussein under a wall inside his shop. I closed his eyes and recited prayers for him then left," Qassem said.

On July 9, a car bomb exploded in the nearby Beir al-Abed district, wounding more than 50 people. Since then, security measures by Hezbollah have become tighter with group members setting up checkpoints searching cars and preventing strangers from parking cars in crowded areas.

Lebanese security officials said they are investigating whether the blast was carried out by a suicide attacker. They said the attacker may have tried to park the car in front of a building but was prevented by residents. He moved few meters up then the vehicle blew up, the officials said on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said that security officials were conducting DNA tests on body parts discovered near the blast.

Charbel said the death toll rose Friday to 22. Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said 336 were wounded by the blast.

The fate of some people is still missing is unknown, as some of the bodies have been totally charred. The Lebanese army urged people who have relatives missing to come forward and give DNA samples.

State-run National News Agency said that among those missing since were a father and his three children.

Tensions between Lebanon's own Sunni and Shiite communities have risen sharply, particularly since Hezbollah began fighting openly in Syria. Lebanese Sunnis support the rebels fighting to topple Assad, a member of a Shiite offshoot sect.

Lebanese President Michel Suleiman blamed Israel for the blast, while Israel's President Shimon Peres said Israel "has nothing to do" with it.

"I was surprised that the President of Lebanon said that Israel is again responsible; why should he look to Israel?" Peres asked. "He has Hezbollah collecting bombs and killing people in Syria without the approval of the Lebanese government."

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • First lady announces one-stop job site for vets

    To help veterans leaving the military as it downsizes, the government on Wednesday started a one-stop job-shopping website for them to create resumes, connect with employers and become part of a database for companies to mine.

    April 23, 2014

  • US weighs clemency for inmates jailed for 10 years

    The Obama administration is encouraging many nonviolent federal prisoners to apply for early release — and expecting thousands to take up the offer. It's an effort to deal with high costs and overcrowding in prisons, and also a matter of fairness, the government says.

    April 23, 2014

  • Michigan man among 1st in US to get 'bionic eye'

    Thanks to a high-tech procedure that involved the surgical implantation of a "bionic eye," Roger Pontz has regained enough of his eyesight to catch small glimpses of his wife, grandson and cat.

    April 23, 2014

  • Airport security vulnerabilities not uncommon

    For all the tens of billions of dollars that the nation has spent on screening passengers and their bags, few airports made a comparable investment to secure the airplanes themselves.

    April 23, 2014

  • Missouri executes inmate for 1993 farm slaying

    Missouri executed an inmate early Wednesday only a few miles from the farm where prosecutors say he orchestrated the 1993 killing of a couple whose cows he wanted to steal.

    April 23, 2014

  • Pro-Russian insurgents hold US journalist captive

    Pro-Russian gunmen in eastern Ukraine admitted on Wednesday that they are holding an American journalist, saying he was suspected of unspecified "bad activities."

    April 23, 2014

  • Beautiful Bulldogs.jpg Lucey is tops in Iowa's 'Beautiful Bulldog' event

    Lucey is a slobbering 18-month-old pooch whose human family dreams of making her a therapy dog.

    April 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • IndyCar puts Castroneves on probation through June

    IndyCar has put Helio Castroneves on probation through June because he violated the series' social media policy.

    April 23, 2014

  • Sherpas leave Everest; some expeditions nix climbs

    Sherpa guides packed up their tents and left Mount Everest's base camp Wednesday in an unprecedented walkout to honor 16 of their colleagues who were killed last week in the deadliest avalanche ever recorded on the mountain, climbers said.

    April 23, 2014

  • FBI investigates suspected serial child molester

    The FBI asked for the public's help Tuesday to identify at least 90 potential victims of a suspected child predator who worked at 10 American and other international schools abroad for more than four decades before committing suicide last month in Minnesota.

    April 22, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
U.S. Paratroopers in Poland, Amid Ukraine Crisis US Reviews Clemency for Certain Inmates Raw: Violence Erupts in Rio Near Olympic Venue Raw: Deadly Bombing in Egypt Raw: What's Inside a Commercial Jet Wheel Well Raw: Obama Arrives in Japan for State Visit Raw: Anti-Obama Activists Fight Manila Police Motels Near Disney Fighting Homeless Problem Michigan Man Sees Thanks to 'bionic Eye' Obama to Oso: We'll Be Here As Long As It Takes Bon Jovi Helps Open Low-income Housing in Philly S.C. Man Apologizes for Naked Walk in Wal-Mart New Country Music Hall of Fame Inductees Named 'Piles' of Bodies in South Sudan Slaughter SCOTUS Hears Tv-over-Internet Case Chief Mate: Crew Told to Escape After Passengers
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

Do you plan to attend any of the local Little 500 Festival events in May?

Yes
No
What events?
     View Results