At least 45 people were killed and hundreds wounded after two explosions hit Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli on Friday, FRANCE 24 reports. Both of the blasts struck outside of mosques as Friday prayers came to an end.
Two powerful explosions just minutes apart killed at least 45 people in Lebanon's main northern city of Tripoli on Friday, hospital sources told FRANCE 24. Some 358 others were wounded, the health minister said.
The first blast rocked the city centre near the home of outgoing Prime Minister Najib Mikati, although his office said he was not in Tripoli at the time.
The second struck near the city’s port, close to the home of former police chief Ashraf Rifi, a security source said.
Map of Lebanon
Footage aired on local TV showed thick, black smoke rising over the city and bodies scattered beside burning cars in scenes reminiscent of Lebanon’s 1975-90 civil war.
The blasts hit amid rising tension in Lebanon as a result of Syria’s civil war, which has sharply polarised the country along sectarian lines and between supporters and opponents of the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Tripoli, a predominantly Sunni Muslim city, has seen frequent clashes between Sunnis and Alawites, a Shiite offshoot sect to which Assad belongs. But Tripoli itself has rarely seen such explosions in recent years.
Attacks have become increasingly common in the past few months against Shiite strongholds in Lebanon, particularly following Hezbollah’s open participation in Syria’s civil war.
On August 15, a car bomb rocked a Shiite stronghold of Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut, killing 27 people and wounding over 300. Another car bomb targeted the same area on July 9, wounding over 50.
Friday’s explosion marks the first time in recent years that such explosions have targeted Sunni strongholds and is bound to raise the country’s sectarian tensions to new levels.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attacks, which raised the scepter of Iraqi-style tit-for-tat explosions pitting Sunnis against Shiites.
(FRANCE 24 with wires)
Date created : 2013-08-23