BEIRUT, Nov 12, (Agencies): At least 41 people have been killed and more than 200 wounded after twin suicide bombings rocked a stronghold of Lebanon’s Shiite Hezbollah movement in south Beirut, officials said. Police said two men on foot set off suicide vests in front of a shopping centre in Burj al-Barajneh, in the southern suburbs of the capital, where the movement is popular. The Red Cross said 41 people had been killed and 200 wounded in the blasts, which happened around 6:00 pm (1600 GMT), according to witnesses. An AFP photographer saw extensive damage to buildings around the site of the blast and bodies inside some of the nearby shops.
There was blood on the streets, and security forces were trying to cordon off the scene and keep people from gathering. The blast is the first to target Beirut’s southern suburbs since June 2014, when a suicide car bomb killed a security officer who had tried to stop the bomber. But prior to that, a string of attacks targeted Hezbollah strongholds throughout the country. Between July 2013 and February 2014, there were nine attacks on Hezbollah bastions, most claimed by Sunni extremists.
The groups claimed the attacks were in revenge for Hezbollah’s decision to send thousands of fighters into neighbouring Syria to support President Bashar al- Assad’s forces against a Sunni-dominated uprising. Local television stations showed footage of wounded people being carried away by emergency services and civilians. “I’d just arrived at the shops when the blast went off. I carried four bodies with my own hands, three women and a man, a friend of mine,” one man who gave his name as Zein al-Abideen Khaddam told local television. Another, who did not give his name, described the sound of the two blasts. “When the second blast went off, I thought the world had ended,” he said.
Meanwhile, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al- Sabah sent a cable to Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam to offer condolences over the victims of the twin suicide bombings that rocked the southern suburb of Beirut Thursday evening. In his cable, His Highness the Amir expressed heartfelt sympathy and deep sorrow over the blasts that left scores of innocent people dead and injured. His Highness the Amir also voiced Kuwait’s strong condemnation of the terrorist attacks that target innocent people and aim to destabilize a sisterly Arab country.
He reiterated Kuwait’s rejection of all terrorism in all its manifestations and its work with the international community to eradicate this scourge. His Highness wished in his cable speedy recovery for the injured in this terrible attacks and solace for the families of those who lost their loved ones. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah and His Highness the Prime Minister Jaber Al-Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent similar cables to the Lebanese Prime Minister Salam. In other news, Lebanon’s parliament held its first legislative session in more than a year on Thursday and started passing financial laws the paralysed state urgently needs to stay afloat.
Thorny political issues were left off the agenda, with the focus primarily on development loans, debt issuance and banks, but one party still walked out, underlining the divisions that continue to stall progress. The Middle East’s only Christian presidency has been vacant since May 2014 because lawmakers cannot agree on a candidate.