Click here to watch: At least 4 dead after twin blasts in Beirut
Iran on Wednesday blamed Israel for a double suicide bombing in Beirut that killed four people near an Iranian cultural center in earlier in the day. A statement from the Iranian Foreign Ministry “strongly condemned” the attack in a Hezbollah-controlled Shi’ite stronghold, and accused Israel of carrying out the bombing in an attempt to destabilize Lebanon after the recent formulation of a new government. However, the twin suicide bombing was claimed by an al Qaeda-linked group, which said it was a response to the military intervention of Iran and Hezbollah in the Syrian war. The army said the rush hour attack in the Shi’ite southern suburbs of Beirut was carried out by two suicide bombers driving cars packed with explosives. Similar tactics were used in a twin suicide attack on the nearby Iranian embassy in November.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a radical Sunni group, claimed responsibility for the latest attack, which wounded more than 100 people and was described by Lebanon’s Sunni Prime Minister Tammam Salam as an act of terrorism. In a post on Twitter, the Brigades said the Iranian culture center was the target. It described the “twin martyrdom operation” as retaliation for Hezbollah’s role in Syria and pledged more attacks. The judge investigating the attack said a total of 160 kg of explosives had been used in the bombing. The Iranian ambassador in Lebanon said the dead included a Lebanese policeman who had been guarding the cultural center, but none of its staff were wounded. The area is controlled by the Shi’ite movement Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces in neighboring Syria in a conflict that has fuelled tensions between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims in Lebanon. Three years of civil war in Syria has spilled over into Lebanon, exacerbating Sunni-Shi’ite tensions and triggering violence, including frequent clashes between armed groups in the northern city of Tripoli. The war has also affected Lebanese politics, leading to paralysis in government.
The explosions went off about 20 meters (yards) from the Iranian center, blowing out the windows of a nearby orphanage run by a Sunni charity. Children were peering out and screaming “bomb, bomb.” Some were crying. A man working at a sweet shop opposite the bomb site said the blast shook the entire area. “We heard one explosion and then another,” he said. Human remains were found nearby. The casualties included a number of children.
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