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বাংলা
Dhaka Tribune

Lebanon in mourning after blasts kill 43

Update : 14 Nov 2015, 07:03 PM

Lebanon observed a national day of mourning on Friday after two suicide bombs the day before killed 43 people in southern Beirut, in an act the United Nations condemned overnight as “despicable.”

More than 240 wounded on Thursday in two suicide bomb blasts claimed by Islamic State in a crowded residential district in Beirut’s southern suburbs, a stronghold of the Shia group Hezbollah.

The explosions were the first attacks in more than a year to target a Hezbollah stronghold inside Lebanon, and came at time when the group is stepping up its involvement in the Syrian civil war -- a fight which has brought Sunni Islamist threats and invective against the Iran-backed Shi’ite group.

Hezbollah has sent hundreds of fighters to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in the four-year-old conflict over the border. Government forces backed by Hezbollah and Iranian troops have intensified their fight against mostly Sunni insurgents, including Islamic State, since Russia launched an air campaign in support of Assad on September 30.

The blasts occurred almost simultaneously late on Thursday and struck a Shi’ite community centre and a nearby bakery in the commercial and residential area of Borj al-Barajneh, security sources said. A closely guarded Hezbollah-run hospital is also nearby.

Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said 43 people were killed and 240 people were wounded.

Islamic State said in a statement posted online by its supporters that its members blew up a bike loaded with explosives in Borj al-Barajneh and that when onlookers gathered, a suicide bomber blew himself up among them. The group said the attacks killed 40 people.

Hezbollah vowed to continue its fight against “terrorists,” warning of a “long war” against its enemies.

Medics rushed to treat the wounded after the explosions, which damaged shop fronts and left the street stained with blood and littered with broken glass.

Interior Minister Nouhad Machnouk said a third suicide bomber had been killed by one of the explosions before he could detonated his own bomb. His body was found nearby.

It was a blow to Hezbollah’s tight security measures in the area, which were strengthened following bombings last year. The army had also set up checkpoints around the southern suburb entrances.

The attacks drew a wave of condemnation across the country’s political spectrum, including some of Hezbollah’s opponents.

Lebanonese Prime Minister Tammam Salam condemned the attacks as “unjustifiable,” and called for unity against “plans to create strife” in the country, urging officials to overcome their differences. France’s foreign ministry also condemned the attacks.

The war in Syria, with which Lebanon shares a border of more than 300 km (190 miles), has ignited sectarian strife in the multi-confessional country, leading to bombings and fighting between supporters of the opposing sides in Syria.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks, urging Lebanon’s security services and state institutions “not (to) allow this despicable act to destroy the relative calm that has prevailed in the country over the past year.”

The explosions were the first attacks in more than a year to target a Hezbollah stronghold in Lebanon, as the Iran-backed group steps up its involvement in the war in neighbouring Syria.

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