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Explosion Targets Lebanese Army Bus in Tripoli


A car bomb has exploded in the northern Lebanese port city of Tripoli, apparently targeting a Lebanese Army bus. Five people, including at least three soldiers, were killed in the blast and at least 21 people were wounded. Edward Yeranian reports for VOA from Beirut.

Red Cross and civil defense ambulances ferried the wounded to nearby hospitals after a car-bomb exploded alongside a bus carrying Lebanese Army soldiers.

The large number of wounded in the blast prompted the director of the nearby Haikal Hospital to urgently plead for donations of blood.

The hospital director said he wasn't sure how many people were wounded but said there was an urgent need for blood.

Lebanon's LBC TV reports that the carbomb was detonated by remote control just as the minibus carrying Lebanese Army soldiers went by. Those who were less seriously wounded were taken to Tripoli's main soccer stadium for treatment.

The explosion was the second targeting a Lebanese Army bus in less than two months. At least 18 people were killed, many of them soldiers, on August 13, when a bomb hidden inside a duffel bag exploded outside a passenger bus in Tripoli's city
center.

Tripoli's Sunni-Muslim mufti Malek Sha'ar insists that those behind this lastest explosion were not from Lebanon and that they were attempting to sow discord inside the country. He said the people behind this act are trying to sow discord among Lebanon's different religious groups but he said all Lebanese will unite to fight this attack

Tensions between Lebanon's Sunni-Muslims and the smaller Alawite sect have been festering since fighting broke out in Tripoli, last May, in the wake of a show of force by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah in Beirut and elsewhere.

Many Lebanese political leaders have accused Syria of fomenting the fighting, in order to intervene militarily. A Syrian Army brigade was recently deployed to Lebanon's northern border, but Damascus insists that is merely intended to "combat smuggling."

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad told visiting French President Nicholas Sarkozy, last month, that he had "asked Lebanon's President Michel Suleiman to deploy an additional Lebanese Army brigade in Tripoli to control the situation.

Several Lebanese commentators interpreted the remarks as an ominous sign of Syria's intent to intervene militarily in Lebanon.

The explosion of a carbomb in the Syrian capital Damascus, Saturday, is reviving those fears, after several Syrian commentators accused Islamic extremists, based in Lebanon, of the bombing.

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