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Car Bombing Shakes Beirut Suburb


A car bomb explosion rocked a predominantly Christian suburb of the Lebanese capital Beirut shortly after midnight, injuring at least nine people. VOA's Sonja Pace went to the blast site in the Jedeydeh neighborhood Saturday morning and has this report.

The charred, twisted remains of the car still lay in the middle of the street, stunned residents sifted through the rubble and swept up debris and shards of broken glass that littered the street and sidewalks.

The bomb had been placed under a car on what is normally a busy shopping street of Jedeydeh. It went off shortly after midnight, shattering windows and badly damaging the façade of the closest apartment building.

By mid-morning Saturday the site was cordoned off, but people came from nearby to have a look.

One local shopkeeper who gave his name only as Hani, says he heard the explosion, but thought it was farther away, in downtown Beirut. He said his sister called him to tell him the bomb went off right near his shop.

"I have a sister right in the neighborhood, so she called me about one o'clock. She said the bomb exploded here. I came," he said.

PACE: What happened to your shop?

"The door was out and all the glass here," Hani said.

Police were searching for clues to determine who was behind the bombing. Even though there were no immediate answers, many people here have their suspicions.

Shopkeeper Hani thinks this is a political message from either Syria or Syrian supporters, who don't want Syrian troops to leave Lebanon.

"You know that we have a foreign army in Lebanon since 30 years and they were always saying they if we go out of Lebanon, the war will start again in Lebanon. Now, they are going out. That's a message, I think so," he said. " But, believe me we are all Lebanese and we will stand and nothing will take us down again. We will never go to war again between each other."

Saturday's bombing has again raised concerns among many Lebanese about the prospect of renewed violence in their country - especially after last month's massive car bomb which killed the popular former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

Political opposition groups and many average Lebanese accused the Syrians and Lebanon's pro-Syrian government of involvement - accusations both authorities vehemently denied. But, the assassination has sparked a political crisis in Lebanon and massive street demonstrations both for and against Syria's presence in the country.

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