Twin suicide bombings (See video below) rocked a busy shopping street Thursday in the Beirut southern suburb of Bourj al-Barajneh, killing 43 people and wounding 239 others, in the worst such attack in years. Sunni extremists take revenge upon Shiites in Lebanon.
The attack was carried out by two suicide bombers who blew up their explosive vests in the Ain al-Sikkeh street.
The Internal Security Forces said two men on foot set off suicide vests in front of a shopping center.
Health Minister Wael Abou Faour, speaking from the scene on a street of shops where vendors also sell from stalls, said many of the injured were in serious condition.
The army said the body of a “third terrorist” was found at the scene of one of the blasts after he apparently failed to blow himself up.
The extremist Islamic State group claimed the attack in a statement posted online.
The statement said:
“Soldiers of the Caliphate detonated explosives planted on a motorbike in an area frequented by Rafida (Shiites). After the apostates gathered in the area, one of the knights of martyrdom detonated his explosive belt in the midst of them.”
The claim could not be independently verified but the statement followed the usual format of IS claims of responsibility and was circulated on jihadist online accounts.
An AFP photographer saw extensive damage to buildings around the site of the blast and bodies inside some of the nearby shops.
There was blood on the streets, and security forces were trying to cordon off the scene and keep people from gathering.
Local television stations showed footage of wounded people being carried away by emergency services and civilians.
“I’d just arrived at the shops when the blast went off. I carried four bodies with my own hands, three women and a man, a friend of mine,” a man who gave his name as Zein al-Abideen Khaddam told local television.
– ‘Thought world ended’ –
Another described the sound of the blasts.
“When the second blast went off, I thought the world had ended,” he said.
The wounded were evacuated to several hospitals in the area, including the Bahman hospital in neighboring Haret Hreik.
“We’ve received dozens of wounded people and they’re continuing to arrive,” a doctor there told AFP.
The blast is the first to target Beirut’s southern suburbs since June 2014, when a suicide car bomb killed a General Security officer who had tried to stop the bomber.
But prior to that, a string of attacks targeted Hizbullah strongholds throughout the country.
Between July 2013 and February 2014, there were nine attacks on Hizbullah bastions, most claimed by jihadist extremists.
The groups claimed the attacks were in revenge for Hizbullah’s decision to send thousands of fighters into neighboring Syria to support the psychopath Baschar al-Assad’s forces against an Islamist-dominated uprising.
AFP contributed to this article.