TERROR STRIKES BEIRUT, 25 KILLED

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Scenes of carnage and chaos following the twin explosions near Iranian Embassy in Beirut.
Scenes of carnage and chaos following the twin explosions near Iranian Embassy in Beirut.

DEADLY TWIN ATTACKS TARGETED IRAN EMBASSY; TOLL EXPECTED TO RISE

BEIRUT, Nov 19 — Twin booby-trapped car explosions targeting the Iranian embassy rocked Lebanon’s capital Beirut, leaving at least 25 people dead and nearly 200 injured.

An explosion occurred about 10.15 am (12.15 p.m. GMT) near the Iranian embassy building in the stronghold of Hezbollah in Beirut’s southern suburbs, followed by another explosion two minutes later, Xinhua reported citing Al Mayadeen TV. A huge fire erupted in the buildings near the embassy, after which civil defense teams rushed to the scene to put off the fire and rescue people.

Lebanese sources told Al Jazeera that the Iranian ambassador is safe. Live footage from local news channels showed charred bodies on the ground as flames rose from the remains of several vehicles. Aid workers and residents carried away some of the victims on blankets.

“People are roaming the streets looking for loved ones,” reported Al Jazeera’s Zeina Khodr from near the site. “The scene is chaotic, and reports here on the ground have the number of casualties rising.”

A security source said the blasts were caused by two rockets fired on the area, in the southern part of the city, but a second security source said there was a car bomb explosion.

An armed guard of the Iranian embassy reportedly told AP news agency that the first blast was believed to have been carried out by a suicide attacker who rode a motorcycle and blew himself outside the gate. The other explosion, that caused much more damage, was a car bomb, the guard said.

“The sheer scale of the destruction is an indication as to how powerful the explosives were,” said Khodr, “with over five buildings damaged by the blasts.”

Lebanon has seen several explosions and street clashes in Beirut and the northern city of Tripoli linked to the 2-1/2-year conflict in neighboring Syria.

There was no word on who was behind the blasts, but Syrian rebels have threatened to target President Bashar al-Assad’s allies in neighboring Lebanon.

Iran has been bank-rolling Assad’s fight against the mainly Sunni rebels and has given military support. It also supports Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Southern Beirut is known as a Hezbollah stronghold and has been rocked with at least three other explosions this year.

Those attacks were blamed on groups linked to the rebels, believed to be in retaliation for its involvement in Syria’s civil war.

Hezbollah fighters have been supporting Assad’s forces in several strategic battles across Syria, a move that has also increased sectarian tension in the two countries.—Aljazeera and agencies.

 

 

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