JNN 17 Aug 2013 Beirut : A car bomb attack Martyred at least 24 people and injured more than 335 in the Shia neighborhood of Ruwaiss in Beirut. The area is a stronghold of the Lebanese resistance movement Hezbollah.
The death toll from Thursday’s car bombing in the southern Beirut Shiite stronghold of Hezbollah rose Friday to 24, said Ali Ammar, an MP for the Lebanese Hezbollah group.
Lebanon’s health minister, Ali Hassan Khalil, said earlier 21 bodies were taken to hospitals and another 335 people had been treated for their injuries, Reuters reported.
A previously unknown Wahabi group ” Brigades of Aisha ” said it carried out Thursday’s attack in the densely populated southern suburbs of Beirut, between Bir al-Abed and Rweiss, districts where Hezbollah security is normally tight.
The National News Agency reported that seven people, including a man and his three children, were missing.
On Friday morning, investigators were combing the scene for clues, as Hezbollah security personnel sealed off the area. Group members in civilian clothes stopped and searched cars in the southern suburbs.
The explosion, reminiscent of the frequent attacks during Lebanon’s 1975-1990 civil war, sent a plume of black smoke into the Mediterranean sky, caused heavy damage to buildings and set several cars ablaze.
Leaders from across the political spectrum condemned the bombing, and a day of mourning was declared.
Hezbollah leader Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah condemned Friday the recent car bombing in the southern suburb of Beirut, describing it as a “terrorist” act, and slammed some states for failing to speak out against it.
“We call for mercy for the souls of the martyrs of the terrorist explosion in the southern suburb of Beirut,” Nasrallah said, addressing a ceremony celebrating the seventh anniversary of Hezbollah’s victory over Israel in the July 2006 war.
“We denounce the silence by states that on a daily basis show they are backers of terrorism,” he added.
“Up to this point, it has been shown, according to available information, that [the people behind the recent car bombing in Beirut] belong to a certain Takfiri movement and their operators are known,” Nasrallah said.
“Some of them are Lebanese, Syrians and Palestinians, unfortunately,” he said.
He warned that Hezbollah is ready to step up its military involvement in Syria in response to attacks targeting the group and its strongholds in Lebanon.
He urged Lebanon’s security agencies to boost coordination in order to break up such group.
He also called on politicians in the country not provide the groups with political cover, warning that the groups sought to throw Lebanon into another civil war.
Nasrallah rejected claims that the attacks only target Shias in lebanon and said, “Those who believe that this threat is directed towards a specific sect are mistaken. The decision was taken to destroy the country and there should be cooperation to avoid this.”
President Michel Sleiman said the “terrorist” bombing targeted all Lebanese, not just Hezbollah.
He further said that Thursday’s deadly bombing in the southern suburb of Beirut bears the fingerprints of the Israeli regime. “This is a criminal act that bears the fingerprints of terrorism and Israel, and is aimed to destabilize Lebanon and deal a blow to the resilience of the Lebanese” .
Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati announced Friday a national day of mourning.
Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam also censured the attack and called for support for the security forces.
In addition, former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri condemned the attack, describing it a “horrific crime”.
“The blast is part of a terrorist scheme that aims to sow strife and evil across Lebanon,” Hariri said in a statement released by his media office.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon urged Lebanon’s fractious political scene to stay united, in a statement that condemned the bombing as “completely unacceptable”.
“During this period of heightened tensions, the secretary general urges all Lebanese to remain united, to rally around their state institutions and to focus on safeguarding Lebanon’s security and stability,” the statement said.
Turkey, and Iran also condemned the attack. Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Abbas Araghchi said the Zionists and their allies are plotting to destabilize Lebanon but the Lebanese people and the Islamic resistance will neutralize the plots.