News / Middle East

Beirut Car Bomb Kills 8, Including Intel Chief

Soldiers inspect damage at scene of the explosion in the mostly Christian neighborhood of Achrafiyeh, Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012. (Jeff Nuemann/VOA)
Soldiers inspect damage at scene of the explosion in the mostly Christian neighborhood of Achrafiyeh, Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012. (Jeff Nuemann/VOA)
Jeff Neumann
A huge car bomb detonated on a residential street in Beirut at Friday rush hour, killing at least eight people including the nation's intelligence chief.
 
Scores were wounded in the heavy damage of the largely Christian district, many of whose residents support opponents of President Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria.
 
Pan-Arab and Lebanese media reported that Wissam al-Hassan, who was in charge of a top intelligence unit, was killed and likely targeted. He led an investigation into a recent bomb plot that resulted in the arrest of a pro-Syrian Lebanese politician. He also led the probe that implicated Syria and the Hezbollah faction in the killing of former prime minister Rafik Hariri.
 
No one took immediate responsibility for the blast and Syria condemned the bombing.

VOA's Susan Yackee interviews reporter Jeff Neumann from the scene in Beirut
VOA's Susan Yackee interviews reporter Jeff Neumanni
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
 

Christian neighborhood
 
The blast was set off in the Sassine Square area of Beirut’s Achrafiyeh neighborhood, close to a branch of the Syrian-owned Bank BEMO and a small office of Lebanon’s Christian Phalange party, a vocal opponent of the Assad regime in Syria.
 
"We saw a bright flash through the window and a loud noise,” said a young woman who works at Pharmacie Achrafiyeh, which is on the same street as the explosion. "I thought it was an earthquake. We didn’t think this was possible here."
 
Two blocks from the blast site is the former Beirut headquarters of the Phalange Party, which now mostly serves as a 24-hour vigil to the one-time commander of the Christian Lebanese Forces militia, Beshir Gemayel, who was assassinated there by a bomb planted by Syrian loyalists in 1982, during the Lebanese Civil War.
 
In an apartment about 15 meters from the blast site, a middle-aged woman sat distraught on a debris covered floor.
 
"I am just lucky I wasn't home," she said.
 
Couches and beds were overturned, and wooden shutters from two balconies were blown inside the apartment. Neighbors from nearby flats wandered the apartment building's darkened hallways in a daze. A thick layer of dust and debris covered the stairs.
 
Broken glass from car windows was strewn about on streets nearly 500 meters from the blast site.
 
But several blocks away, next to the upscale ABC Mall, street cafes were doing brisk business as people gathered to drink coffee and smoke as they would on any other evening.
 
A 24-year-old man, who would only give his name as Paul, said he heard a second explosion shortly after the car exploded, but guessed "it was probably a gas canister." 
 
Standing on the street where the blast happened, he said that the block was mostly inhabited by elderly people. Several elderly men and women were seen being removed from nearby apartment buildings on stretchers and taken to ambulances.
 
Call for blood donations
 
Several feet from the blast, a construction site for one of Beirut's new luxury residential towers was converted into a makeshift Red Cross field hospital. A young female Red Cross worker at the scene could only say, "We just need people to donate blood."

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland says there is no justification for such violence and expressed Washington's sympathies for the victims and their families.
 
Friday's blast comes amid fears of spillover from the civil war in neighboring Syria. Several outbursts of violence have taken the lives of dozens of Lebanese this year, and attacks by Syrian army forces on Lebanese border towns are almost a daily occurrence.
 
Anti-Syrian politicians, including Mustapha Allouche of the opposition March 14th Coalition, accused Syria of orchestrating the bombing.
 
Allouche said that Syrian President Assad has threatened on several occasions to “set fire to the whole region,” if the conflict in his country continues.
 
Story continues below
  • A Sunni Muslim man hangs up a poster with an image of senior intelligence official Wissam al-Hassan, in the Tariq al-Jadideh district in Beirut, October 20, 2012.
  • Protesters march in the Achrafieh neighborhood a day after a car bomb attack that killed Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan and at least seven others in Beirut, Lebanon, October 20, 2012.
  • A protester carries a tire to add to burning tires used as a roadblock to protest the death of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan in a car bomb attack, in the southern port city of Sidon, Lebanon, October 20, 2012.
  • Women walk through a road block of burning garbage containers laid by Sunni protesters angry at the killing of Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan in Beirut, Lebanon, October 20, 2012.
  • Lebanese soldiers and security personnel walk in rubble after an explosion in central Beirut, October 19, 2012.
  • A Lebanese rescue worker, center, helps an wounded man at the scene of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012.
  • Firefighters extinguish fire at the scene of an explosion Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012.
  • Lebanese rescue workers and civilians carry a wounded man from the scene of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012.
  • Lebanese Red Cross and civil defence personnel work at the site of an explosion in central Beirut, October 19, 2012.
  • Lebanese soldiers inspect damaged buildings at the scene of an explosion in Beirut, Lebanon, October 19, 2012.
  • Firefighters try to extinguish a fire as a car burns at the scene of an explosion in Ashafriyeh, central Beirut, October 19, 2012.

Dory Chamoun, who heads Lebanon's National Liberal Party and whose home is located in Achrafiyeh, called the explosion a “political message.” He said that the conflict in Syria was causing collateral damage in Lebanon and would stop only when the Syrian crisis ends.
 
“There is no doubt that the longer the situation lasts in Syria, the more we're going to have some spillovers into Lebanon, but we just hope that things will go faster and normalize faster in Syria and things will be better for everyone concerned,” Chamoun said.
 
The attack Thursday also brought back memories of high-profile political assassinations in Lebanon, such as that of former Prime Minister Hariri, who was killed by a truck bomb attack on his convoy in Beirut in 2005.
 
His son, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, condemned the Friday bombing.
 
“The cowardly terrorist attack which targeted Achrafiyeh today is an attack against all of Lebanon and all the Lebanese people," he said. "It is a cowardly act against the country’s stability and security.”
 
Some people at the scene feared that the days of attacks like that were back.
 
"We never got out of the bad times," Paul said. "But it was just a matter of time."

Edward Yeranian contributed to this report from Cairo.

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that members Lebanon’s Christian Phalange party support Syrian President Bashar al Assad. VOA regrets the error.

You May Like

Photogallery Pistorius Sentenced, Transferred to Prison

Pistorius, convicted of culpable homicide in shooting death of girlfriend Reeva Steenkamp, will likely serve about 10 months of five-year sentence, before completing it under house arrest More

UN to Aid Central Africa in Polio Vaccinations

Synchronized vaccinations will be conducted after Cameroon reports a fifth case of the wild polio virus in its territory More

WHO: Ebola Vaccine Could Be in Use by January

Assistant director says that clinical trials of Ebola vaccines are underway or planned in Europe, United States, Africa More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: musaw melake
October 20, 2012 7:13 AM
This seems to be a tit for tat attack, as the victim of today's incident has a hand in what took place inside Syria. If the man's agency is allowed to export it's terror over the border and target another country's intel-chief and other VIPs, the the opposite should be expected.


by: Ozlam from: Turkey
October 19, 2012 7:06 PM
now it begins... US/Israel/UK/Jordan nightmare begins... Hezbullah/Assad/Iran dream come true... where is Obama...??

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rulesi
X
October 21, 2014 12:20 AM
European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video US ‘Death Cafes’ Put Focus on the Finale

In contemporary America, death usually is a topic to be avoided. But the growing “death café” movement encourages people to discuss their fears and desires about their final moments. VOA’s Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Ebola Orphanage Opens in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone's first Ebola orphanage has opened in the Kailahun district. Hundreds of children orphaned since the beginning of the Ebola outbreak face stigma and rejection with nobody to care for them. Adam Bailes reports for VOA about a new interim care center that's aimed at helping the growing number of children affected by Ebola.
Video

Video Young Nairobi Tech Innovator on 'Track' in Security Business

A 24-year-old technology innovator in Nairobi has invented a tracking device that monitors and secures cars. He has also come up with what he claims is the most robust audio-visual surveillance system yet. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from the Kenyan capital, his innovations are offering alternative security solutions.
Video

Video Latinas Converting to Islam for Identity, Structure

Latinos are one of the fastest growing groups in the Muslim religion. According to the Pew Research Center, about 6 percent of American Muslims are Latino. And a little more than half of new converts are female. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti travelled to Miami, Florida -- where two out of every three residents is Hispanic -- to learn more.
Video

Video Exclusive: American Joins Kurds' Anti-IS Fight

The United States and other Western nations have expressed alarm about their citizens joining Islamic State forces in Syria and Iraq. In a rare counterpoint to the phenomenon, an American has taken up arms with the militants' Syrian Kurdish opponents. Elizabeth Arrott has more in this exclusive profile by VOA Kurdish reporter Zana Omer in Ras al Ayn, Syria.
Video

Video South Korea Confronts Violence Within Military Ranks

Every able-bodied South Korean male between 18 and 35 must serve for 21 to 36 months in the country’s armed forces, depending upon the specific branch. For many, service is a rite of passage to manhood. But there are growing concerns that bullying and violence come along with the tradition. Reporter Jason Strother has more from Seoul.
Video

Video North Carolina Emerges as Key Election Battleground

U.S. congressional midterm elections will be held on November 4th and most political analysts give Republicans an excellent chance to win a majority in the U.S. Senate, which Democrats now control. So what are the issues driving voters in this congressional election year? VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone traveled to North Carolina, one of the most politically competitive states in the country, to find out.
Video

Video Comanche People Maintain Pride in Their Heritage

The Comanche (Indian nation) once were called the “Lords of the Plains,” with an empire that included half the land area of current day Texas, large parts of Oklahoma, New Mexico, Kansas and Colorado.The fierceness and battle prowess of these warriors on horseback delayed the settlement of most of West Texas for four decades. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Lawton, Oklahoma, that while their warrior days are over, the 15,000 members of the Comanche Nation remain a proud people.
Video

Video Turkey Campus Attacks Raise Islamic Radicalization Fears

Concerns are growing in Turkey of Islamic radicalization at some universities, after clashes between supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State (IS) or ISIS, and those opposed to the extremists. Pro-jihadist literature is on sale openly on the streets of Istanbul. Critics accuse the government of turning a blind eye to radicalism at home, while Kurds accuse the president of supporting IS - a charge strongly denied. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

All About America

AppleAndroid