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Bomb Blast Near Beirut Kills 3, Injures Several

A bomb blast in a predominantly Christian area north of Beirut has killed three people and injured several others. The blast was the second in five days and is heightening fears in an already politically charged atmosphere.

The blast occurred in the early morning hours, Wednesday, in a shopping center in the area of Kaslik, some 20 kilometers north of Beirut.

It was the second bomb blast in less than a week. Early Saturday, a bomb exploded in the mostly Christian Beirut suburb, Jedeydeh, injuring 11 people and damaging homes and shops in the area.

No one has claimed responsibility for either blast, but many Lebanese suspect a political motive.

Lebanese Christian opposition lawmaker Samir Franjieh told VOA the bombings were designed to sow fear and sectarian tensions and as a warning to the opposition and and to those calling for neighboring Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon.

"To say to the Lebanese people - look, when the Syrians decide to withdraw the risk of war is coming and so we have to change our position and accept this Syrian presence," said Samir Franjieh.

Mr. Franjieh says he and other opposition politicians have received warnings and thinly veiled threats because of their stand. But, he says this will not change the opposition attitude.

"But, it's a very dirty way to deal with what's happening," he said.

Lebanon has been in political turmoil since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a massive explosion in Beirut over a month ago.

Many Lebanese blame Syria and Lebanon's pro-Syrian government for involvement, but both authorities deny those accusations. Mr. Hariri's death sparked massive anti-government and anti-Syrian demonstrations. Those, and along with growing international pressure, have led to at least a partial withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country.