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26 February 2024

Explosion rocks Christian neighbourhood of Beirut

By Agencies

An explosion apparently targeting a police official rocked a Christian neighbourhood of Beirut on Friday, killing up to 10 people and setting several vehicles ablaze inside a blackened crater in the middle of the street.

The private Future TV station, which is close to the government and Interior Ministry, reported that 10 people were killed, including Capt Wissam Eid, a senior police intelligence officer. Other Lebanese stations said at least six were killed and 18 wounded.

Future and other TV stations said earlier that a "security convoy" was targeted.

Police had no immediate comment.

The blast hit a street in Hazmieh, on the Christian eastern edge of the capital. Video from the scene showed a huge plume of black smoke rising from street and orange flames shooting up into the sky.

Several cars could be seen burning in a blackened area some 20 meters (wide), near a highway overpass. Firefighters struggled to put out the flames.

TV footage showed at least three bodies, one slumped behind the wheel of a delivery truck that was ripped apart by the force of the explosion, and two others on the ground under a highway tressel.

It was not immediately known whether the explosives were placed on the side of the road or whether they were packed in a car.

But the level of destruction suggested a huge amount of explosives was used, with dozens of cars wrecked and a massive crater left in the broken asphalt.

Lebanon has been hit by a series of explosions, some of them political assassinations, amid a deepening 14-month political crisis.

Friday's blast came a day after a labour strike that was largely peaceful, and 10 days after a car bomb aimed at a US Embassy car killed three bystanders.

In December, a car bombing killed a top general in the army. (AP)