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17 April 2024

Lebanon car bombing kills at least 4: minister

People try to extinguish fire at the site of an explosion in Hermel. Four people were killed and 14 others wounded when a suicide car bomb exploded on Lebanon's northern border with Syria. (REUTERS)


A probable suicide car bombing killed at least four people Saturday at a petrol station in Hermel, a stronghold of the Shiite movement Hezbollah, Lebanon's interior minister said.

It was the seventh attack to target Hezbollah in Lebanon since mid-2013, when the group sent men to Syria to fight alongside President Bashar al-Assad's troops against mainly Sunni rebel groups.

"At least four people were killed and more than 15 wounded, two or three of them in critical condition," Interior Minister Marwan Charbel told Hezbollah's Al-Manar television station.

"We think it is a suicide attack," he added.

The explosion, which took place at around 6:00 pm (1600 GMT) after nightfall, sparked a huge blaze that hindered the arrival of emergency services.

Al Manar broadcast footage of a massive fire at the site.

Security forces later closed off the area and firefighters managed to extinguish the blaze.

It was the second blast in less than a month to hit Hermel, in the east of the country and close to the border with war-ravaged Syria.

On January 16, a car bombing outside the main government administration building in Hermel killed three people.

That attack was claimed by the Al Nusra Front in Lebanon, a group that has emerged recently and that shares a name with Al Qaeda's Syrian affiliate.

It is unclear if there is any relation between the two groups.

Al Nusra Front in Lebanon had also claimed another attack five days earlier in the southern suburbs of Beirut, Hezbollah's heartlands.

The outbreak of the conflict in Syria in March 2011 has inflamed sectarian tensions in Lebanon.

While Hezbollah has sent fighters to battle alongside Assad's forces, many Lebanese back the rebels fighting his regime.

Lebanon's northern port city of Tripoli has seen regular clashes between the two sectors.

Other attacks in Lebanon have targeted opponents of Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, including politician Mohammad Chatah, who was killed in a car bomb blast on December 27 in Beirut.