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Middle east

Car bomb strikes Hezbollah stronghold in northeast Lebanon

© Photo: AFP (file photo)

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-01-16

A suicide car bomber killed himself and at least three others while wounding 26 more in an attack near a local government building in the northeastern Lebanese town of Hermel on Thursday, state media and local residents said.

The town, close to the country’s border with Syria, is known as a stronghold of the Shiite militant and political movement Hezbollah.

Local channels, including Hezbollah's Al Manar, broadcast images of a large plume of smoke pouring up from a square and the twisted wreckage of a car.

"Casualties were caused by a car bomb explosion that hit the main square of Hermel town," a security source told the AFP news agency, adding that the blast occurred "in front of the main government administration building".

Lebanon's National News Agency said at least four people were killed in the blast including the suicide bomber and said another 26 were wounded. A security source confirmed the death toll.

President Michel Suleiman denounced the attack and called on the country's security forces “to intensify efforts to detain instigators and criminals and bring them to justice.”

The bombing is the latest in a wave of attacks to hit Lebanon in recent months as the civil war in Syria increasingly spills over into its smaller neighbour.

The violence has targeted both Sunni and Shiite neighbourhoods, further stoking sectarian tensions that are already running high as each community in Lebanon lines up behind its brethren in Syria on opposing sides of the war.

Hezbollah, Lebanon's most powerful military and political movement, has sent fighters and advisers to Syria to aid ally President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Alawite minority, in his battle with mainly Sunni rebels.

Thursday’s attack occurred shortly before an international tribunal began a trial in absentia of four Hezbollah members accused of planning a car bombing that killed former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in 2005.

The trial in the Hague is highly contentious in Lebanon, but its political fallout has been overshadowed by the increasingly sectarian war in Syria over the past three years.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP and REUTERS)

Date created : 2014-01-16

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