News / Middle East

Sunni Militants Claim Beirut Blast

A Lebanese army soldier carries two injured children away from the site of an explosion near the Kuwaiti Embassy and Iran's cultural center, in the suburb of Beir Hassan, Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 19, 2014.
A Lebanese army soldier carries two injured children away from the site of an explosion near the Kuwaiti Embassy and Iran's cultural center, in the suburb of Beir Hassan, Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 19, 2014.
Edward Yeranian
Two suicide attackers detonated cars stuffed with explosives Wednesday in Beirut's mostly Shi'ite southern suburbs, close to the Iranian Cultural Center and a nearby Islamic orphanage. Health Minister Wa'el Abou Faour told journalists at least four people were killed and more than 100 were wounded.

Fire and rescue workers doused the burning wreckage of a late-model BMW car. The driver blew himself up in front of the Iranian Cultural Center in Beirut's southern suburbs, a mostly Shi'ite Muslim area that is a stronghold of Hezbollah fighters.  A second suicide bomber detonated his vehicle less than 100 meters away, in front of an Islamic orphanage, injuring several children, but killing no one but himself.

Lebanese media urged citizens to donate blood to help victims of the explosions.

Civil defense members and civilians put out a fire at the site of an explosion in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Feb. 19, 2014.Civil defense members and civilians put out a fire at the site of an explosion in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Feb. 19, 2014.
x
Civil defense members and civilians put out a fire at the site of an explosion in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Feb. 19, 2014.
Civil defense members and civilians put out a fire at the site of an explosion in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Feb. 19, 2014.
A Sunni militant group calling itself the Abdullah Azzam Brigades claimed responsibility for the blasts, according to Lebanese satellite channels.  Lebanese security forces arrested several members of the group 10 days ago as suicide bombers in training.  The group's leader reportedly died in government custody after being arrested at a Beirut hospital.

Faour sees the bombings as a message to Lebanon's fractious political establishment, since the attack came just days after formation of a new government.

He says there is a double message from the bombings: that the formation of the government did not solve the conflict facing the country, and a second message that the new government must work even faster to find a political entente [accord].

Investigating magistrate Judge Saqr Saqr told Lebanese media that one of the suicide vehicles was packed with 90 kilograms of explosives, and the second carried 70 kg.  Both vehicles had been stolen.

Interior Minister Nouhad Mashnouq said the new government will take all necessary steps to put a stop to terrorism both in Lebanon and in neighboring Syria.

He says there are unguarded border crossings with Syria that stolen vehicles intended to deliver explosives can cross easily. The minister said Lebanon must put a stop to these "death traps" on its side of the Bekaa Valley, and that all political forces must cooperate in that effort.

Iranian Ambassador Ghazanfar Ruknabadi told reporters at the Lebanese prime minister's office that he "deplored the loss of life of all victims of the bombings," especially a Lebanese security officer who prevented one of the bombers from getting close to the Iranian Cultural Center.  He said no Iranians were killed or wounded in the blasts.

  • An injured school boy receives treatment inside an ambulance at the site of an explosion near the Iranian cultural centre in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Lebanese army investigators gather next to burned and damaged cars at the site of explosions, in the suburb of Beir Hassan, Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • A Lebanese firefighter extinguishes a burned car at the site of an explosion, near the Kuwaiti Embassy and Iran's cultural center, in the suburb of Beir Hassan, Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Lebanese firefighters extinguish a burning car at the site of an explosion near the Kuwaiti Embassy and Iran's cultural center, in the suburb of Beir Hassan, Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • A Lebanese army soldier carries two injured children away from the site of an explosion near the Kuwaiti Embassy and Iran's cultural center, in the suburb of Beir Hassan, Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 19, 2014.
  • Lebanese civil defense workers carry an injured girl at the site of an explosion, near the Kuwaiti Embassy and Iran's cultural center, in the suburb of Beir Hassan, Beirut, Lebanon, Feb. 19, 2014.

The Iranian Embassy compound was gutted in another suicide attack in Beirut's southern suburbs just three months ago.

Tensions between Lebanon's Sunni and Shi'ite Muslim communities have been extremely tense due to the sectarian civil war raging in neighboring Syria, and tit-for-tat bombings have rocked the country for months.  Lebanon's pro-Iranian Shi'ite Hezbollah militia has been fighting inside Syria on the side of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

One of Hezbollah's political leaders in parliament, Ali Ammar, said his group would "continue to fight in Syria on the side of the the government, no matter what the cost."

Hezbollah's overall leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, has insisted repeatedly that his fighters are "defending Shi'ite holy sites inside Syria."  Hundreds of Hezbollah members recently have been fighting Syrian Sunni rebels in the mountainous border region with Lebanon known as Qalamoun.

An Iranian member of parliament said publicly last week that his country has trained "thousands" of Shi'ite fighters from Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere to "fight on the side of the Assad government."  Many Arab analysts accuse the chief of Iran's Revolutionary Guards, Qassem al Suleimani, of spearheading the Sunni-Shi'ite war that is raging in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon.

You May Like

Ukraine: Mysterious 'Roaming Tank' Reportedly Takes Aim at Smugglers

Ukraine's TV, print media, Facebook abuzz with reports a 'roaming tank' is on the loose, destroying vehicles of those involved in smuggling More

US Wildlife Service Begins Probe of Killing of Cecil the Lion

Minnesota man accused of killing beast is in hiding, has been asked to contact US officials; White House to review extradition petition More

Video Kerry Tour Will Cover Security, Iran Nuclear Deal

US secretary of state to visit 5 countries in the Middle East, South Asia in bid to strengthen economic and security ties, ease concerns over deal with Tehran More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs