Local television footage showed vehicles ablaze and clouds of black smoke hovering above the southern suburb of Beirut, a Hezbollah-dominated area of the capital. According to the Lebanese Daily Star newspaper, residents were urged to clear the area in fear of a second explosion.
The situation in Lebanon has been tense since the beginning of the Syrian conflict and was further intensified when Hezbollah openly announced their support for Syrian president Bashar Al-Assad. Hezbollah MP Ali Ammar told the Daily Star that Bir Al-Abed was targeted for its obvious support for the Shi’a group and believes the incident “bears the fingerprint of the Israeli enemy and its tools.”
Sources confirmed that a parking lot employee died from his wounds, while the head of Bahman Hospital, Ali Karim, confirmed to local Arabic newspaper Annahar the arrival of 18 wounded, most of whom were women and children. The total number of wounded is believed to be 34, according to the Lebanese Red Cross.
According to the Daily Star, interior minister Marwan Charbel described the blast as an “act of sabotage” aimed at creating sectarian strife in the country. The blast is the second attack on a Hezbollah stronghold following a twin rocket attack in the southern suburb of Shiyah in May that wounded four.
Officials say it is still too soon to speculate who is behind the attack.