Beirut, Asharq Al-Awsat—Two powerful bomb attacks shook Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli shortly after Friday prayers, leaving at least 47 dead and over 500 injured.
No one has claimed responsibility for the two attacks so far.
The explosions come a week after a car bomb rocked the Shi’ite-dominated Dahieh district in south Beirut.
Immediately after the incident, Lebanese military units cordoned off the Al-Taqwa and Al-Salam mosques, where the two explosions took place.
According to Lebanon’s National News Agency (NNA), the second attack, near Al-Salam Mosque, left a hole 6.5 feet (2 meters) deep and 16 feet (5 meters) across. The blast has caused severe damage to the buildings in the vicinity of the Al-Salam Mosque, where a number of high-profile Lebanese figures live.
Friday’s Tripoli explosions and last week’s Dahieh car bomb sparked alarm among the Lebanese, who fear that the Iraqi scenario is being reenacted in their country.
“I cannot describe what happened. I was standing outside when I heard loud noise and I saw dense smoke that hung over the area,” a Tripoli resident told Asharq Al-Awsat.
Another eyewitness said: “It was like the day of judgement, and I did not realize what had happened.”
For its part, Hezbollah, a Shi’a group, condemned the attacks and announced in a statement that such acts “sow seeds of strife among the Lebanese and drag them into bickering under a sectarian guise.”
Lebanese president Michel Suleiman had to cut short an international visit following Friday’s attacks, which he described as “massacres that come within the framework of a series of sectarian explosions targeting the entire homeland.”
The prime minister designate, Najib Mikati, expressed his regret over the “crime that targeted Tripoli once again, in a clear message, aimed at sowing sectarian tensions.”
The speaker of the Lebanese Parliament, Nabih Berry, called upon the Lebanese to unite in the face of the “terrorism” that has moved from Dahieh to Tripoli.
As spokesman for UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attack, saying: “The secretary-general calls on all Lebanese to exercise restraint, to remain united, and to support their state institutions.”