Day of mourning after anti-Hizbollah attack in Beirut
Beirut (AsiaNews) - The Lebanese government declared a national day of mourning today after a car bomb blew up yesterday in a Hizbollah stronghold, south of the capital Beirut, killing 22 with seven missing, including a man and three children. The Red Cross reported 325 people wounded, but the final toll is not yet in.
The blast occurred in the densely populated district of Ruwais, a stronghold of Shia-dominated Hizbollah. For some observers, the attack was the worst of its kind in a Hizbollah-controlled area in 30 years. It was so big that it devastated nearby buildings, many bodies beyond recognition.
Investigators are now on the site of the attack, whilst security officials are meeting with President Michel Sleiman.
The government said that all lines of inquiry are being pursued, but the Lebanese president said the blast bore Israel's fingerprint. His Israeli counterpart, Shimon Peres, denied any responsibility.
Hizbollah has many enemies, especially after it publicly backed Syria's Bashar Assad in his fight against the Sunni-dominated Free Syrian Army and Sunni fundamentalists who want to topple the Syrian president.
Local residents blame Saudi Arabia for the attack. The Saudis supply weapons to the Syrian rebels.
A previously unknown group, the Battalion of Ayesha, claimed responsibility for the attack. After accusing Hizbollah of meddling in Syrian affairs and acting as an Iranian proxy, it pledged further attacks.
On 9 July, a booby-trapped car exploded at a parking lot in Bir al-Abed, leaving 53 people wounded and causing extensive material damage.
In May, two rockets slammed into the Beirut southern suburb of Shiyyah, wounding four people.