Explosion in Beirut kills at least five people


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An explosion in Shi'ite group Hezbollah's southern Beirut stronghold has killed at least five people and injured 66, on Thursday afternoon (January 2).

According to local media, an explosive-rigged, four-wheel-drive vehicle was parked on Al-Areed Street.

The explosion happened at around 4:15 p.m. local time and damaged dozens of vehicles parked nearby as well as several buildings.

"The terrorist explosion targeted a densely populated residential area, just 150 to 200 metres away from Hezbollah's political bureau," local media reported, although the building is not thought to have been the target.

An AFP photographer saw flames and smoke rising from burning vehicles and at least three buildings damaged by the blast.

According to local media, at least five people were killed and 66 injured.

Minutes after the explosion, gunshots were fired in the air to disperse the crowd who gathered at the scene. Security forces tried to clear the site fearing there might be another bombing attack.

According to AFP, the district hit by the attack is a symbolic one for Hezbollah, which once based many of its leadership institutions in the area.

"This is the heart of the Hezbollah stronghold and it's considered a safe zone but not anymore," Al Jazeera correspondent in Beirut said.

Hundreds of people helped Lebanese Red Cross personnel move the wounded from the rubble

Conflict in neighboring Syria has escalated the violence in Lebanon recently.

In the last few months, the Lebanese capital Beirut has been hit by a series of bombs, including one last week which killed a former minister and political adversary of Hezbollah.
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