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Beirut Bombing Kills 1, Wounds 19

Officials in Lebanon say a suicide car bomber has killed a security officer and wounded at least 19 other people near a cafe south of the capital, Beirut.

The blast around midnight happened as people gathered at the cafe to watch World Cup soccer matches. The explosion damaged nearby buildings and left mangled and charred cars in the street.

"I was coming here to drink a cup of coffee. When I arrived I heard a car coming in the opposite direction to the traffic, and suddenly the explosion took place. I left my motorbike and ran away, ambulances came and a fire was growing," said a witness.
Car bomb in Beirut, Lebanon
Car bomb in Beirut, Lebanon

The bombing is the second in the past week to strike the region, and comes as sectarian tensions mount over civil war in Syria and the rapidly-deteriorating situation in nearby western Iraq, where al-Qaida-inspired militants control wide swaths of territory.

On Friday, authorities say a suicide bomber blew himself up at a police checkpoint on the Beirut-Damascus highway in east Lebanon killing at least one person and wounding more than 30 others.

Hardline Sunni militants have claimed responsibility for a number of recent attacks against Shi'ites in the region. Militants say the bombings are aimed at punishing Shi'ite Lebanese Hezbollah fighters for their military role in Syria's civil war as supporters of embattled President Bashar al-Assad.

Lebanon remains deeply split over the Syrian conflict, with Sunnis backing insurgents and Shi'ites largely supporting the government.