World Bulletin / News Desk
A massive car bomb ripped through a Beirut stronghold of Hezbollah that has been fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war, wounding 53 people on Tuesday.
None of those hurt were seriously wounded, Health Minister Hassan Khalil told Reuters, and there were no fatalities.
There was no immediate indication of who was behind the blast.
"This is the work of agents trying to create strife in Lebanon," Hezbollah parliamentary deputy Ali Meqdad said at the site of the explosion.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said the attack was "a criminal act aimed at destabilising the country and creating Sunni-Shi'ite sectarian strife". President Michel Suleiman said it reopened the "black pages" of Lebanon's civil war.
Syria's conflagration has spread to Lebanon, where there have been outbreaks of fighting reflecting the renewed sectarian tension now spreading through the Middle East.
Sunni militant groups have threatened to attack Hezbollah following its military intervention in Syria. Hezbollah did not immediately respond to Tuesday's blast but it has made clear it intends to keep fighting alongside Assad's forces in Syria.
A Reuters reporter saw a large fire raging at the site of the blast near a shopping mall in Bir al-Abed, an area that is also home to Hezbollah officials and their offices. It was unclear if any of the group's leaders had been in the area.
A pillar of dense black smoke billowed above surrounding high-rise apartment blocks. Ambulances and fire engines sped through the streets to rescue casualties.
Dozens of cars were ablaze in the parking lot where the car rigged with explosives was left. Reuters and other media outlets were prevented from reaching the area, where Hezbollah gunmen allowed only the group's Al Manar TV to operate.
Images from the scene showed a crater covered by a blue tarpaulin and surrounded by wrecked cars. Hezbollah men with red caps and yellow arm-bands set up a security cordon around the blast scene along with Lebanese soldiers.
Hezbollah gunmen were seen arresting two men near the scene.
Angry young men carrying pictures of Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah began shouting "God and Nasrallah".
Soldiers fired in the air to dispel crowds trying to attack interior minister Charbel, who has in the past declined to crack down on hardline Sunni groups in Lebanon.
Zeinab, a 45-year-old woman whose apartment opposite the blast site had its windows blown out, broke down in tears.
"I went to fetch breakfast for my son and then heard the explosion. I want to know he is OK. I want to talk to him."
Shopping areas would likely have been full on Tuesday, the day before the Islamic holy month of Ramadan begins. Most of the casualties were apparently women and children out shopping.
The attack is the second strike in southern Beirut this year. Two rockets struck the area in May.
No group claimed responsibility for Tuesday's blast.Güncelleme Tarihi: 09 Temmuz 2013, 16:58