Car bomb kills 5 in Hezbollah stronghold near Syria

A man reacts near a burning car at the site of an explosion in the Shi'ite town of HermelA suicide car bomber killed five people in a Hezbollah stronghold on Lebanon’s northern border with Syria on Thursday, the latest sign of the Syrian civil war’s creeping impact on its small Mediterranean neighbor.

The blast came as a court at The Hague began hearings on the 2005 killing of Lebanese statesman Rafik al-Hariri. The trial in absentia of four Hezbollah members, once billed as demonstrating a new start for Lebanon under the rule of law, has been overshadowed by violence spilling over from Syria.

The car bomb went off near a local government building in the centre of Hermel, at the northern end of the Bekaa Valley, an area populated mainly by Shi’ite Muslims from whom Hezbollah draws its support. The explosion shattered windows and damaged nearby buildings, witnesses said.

A Reuters photographer saw body parts strewn across the street and people with shrapnel wounds in the area of the blast. Hospitals were calling on people to give blood.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but it fit a pattern of attacks by rival sectarian groups on each other’s strongholds that has been amplified by Syria’s civil war.

Hezbollah, Lebanon’s most powerful military and political movement, has sent fighters and advisers to aid President Bashar al-Assad, a member of Syria’s Alawite minority, in his battle with mainly Sunni rebels. Both Hezbollah and Assad are supported by the Shi’ite religious rulers of Iran.

Lebanon’s National News Agency said five people were killed in the blast, including the bomber, and a further 26 were wounded. A security source confirmed the death toll.

President Michel Suleiman denounced the terrorist explosion.

“The terrorist explosion that targeted the town of Hermel today is a new episode of criminality,” Suleiman said Thursday and called for forming an all-encompassing cabinet “to face these terrorist groups.”

Prime Minister-designate Tammam Salam and caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati, both Sunnis as required under Lebanon’s confessional political system also condemned the bombing.

“Once again the hand of terrorism has extended into a dear area of Lebanon to claim the lives of innocent citizens,” the national news agency quoted Salam as saying.

Salam, who has been trying to form a government since Mikati resigned in March, called for an “improvement in the political climate” so Lebanon could “close the road to those who benefit from the weakness of the domestic situation”.

SYRIA OVERSHADOWS TRIAL

Lebanon is still very much subject to the conflicts between political factions backed by rival domestic, regional and global powers that fuelled a 15-year civil war up to 1990 and provided the backdrop to the car bombing that killed Hariri, a Sunni businessman and former prime minister.

Officials affiliated with Hezbollah on one side and the Future movement led by Hariri’s son Saad on the other have failed to agree on a government since Mikati resigned.

Political assassinations go on. Last month, the Future movement’s Mohamed Chatah, another Sunni ex-minister, was killed by a car bomb in downtown Beirut not far from the site of Hariri’s death.

Hezbollah-run areas have been hit by bomb and rocket attacks claimed by Sunni militants. Four car bombs have exploded in Hezbollah’s stronghold of south Beirut since July. Two suicide bombings at the Iranian embassy in November killed at least 25 people including an Iranian diplomat.

Different sectarian priorities were apparent in Lebanese media on Thursday. Hezbollah’s Al Manar channel focused on the Hermel bombing. Saad Hariri’s Future Television broadcast live from the special tribunal at The Hague.

Four Hezbollah members accused of plotting the attack on February 14, 2005 that killed 22 people are being tried, though none has been arrested.

The tribunal was set up under the auspices of the United Nations in the face of opposition from Hezbollah. It denies any role in the assassination of Hariri, who enjoyed support from Sunni-ruled Saudi Arabia, Iran’s main regional adversary.

The trial prosecutor, Canadian lawyer Norman Farrell, told the court on Thursday that the Beirut bombing was intended to spread panic throughout Lebanon and employed far more explosive than was need to kill the main target, Hariri.

Establishing the tribunal was one of the most contentious issues in Lebanese politics for years, but it has been much overshadowed now by the spread of violence from Syria

Reuters/NNA

Photo: A man reacts near a burning car at the site of an explosion in the Shi’ite town of Hermel January 16, 2014. REUTERS/Rami Bleibel

  • 5thDrawer

    And the beat goes on …
    No-one thinks a trial is going to stop it. But the trial will go on too.

  • 5thDrawer

    And the beat goes on …
    No-one thinks a trial is going to stop it. But the trial will go on too.

  • Guest

    ./

  • Guest

    ./

  • man-o-war

    Terrible! More “martyrdom operations” against civilians because of religious affiliation. May the suicide bomber rot in hell. The terrorist are weakening and that is why they have to target civilians, too cowardly and weak to target real fighters.

    Anyone who targets civilians be it HA, Assad, Israeli, Shiite, Sunni, Christian, will surely rot in hell and deserves nothing but piss. Shame on the cowards!

  • man-o-war

    Terrible! More “martyrdom operations” against civilians because of religious affiliation. May the suicide bomber rot in hell. The terrorist are weakening and that is why they have to target civilians, too cowardly and weak to target real fighters.

    Anyone who targets civilians be it HA, Assad, Israeli, Shiite, Sunni, Christian, will surely rot in hell and deserves nothing but piss. Shame on the cowards!

  • nagy_michael2

    Those jihadists are nothing but cowards and plain damned ignorant. Allah do not wish you to die like that in his name. You will all burn in hell for this one and many others.. there will not be 70 virgins more like 70 men waiting to whip you where the sun don’t shine.

  • nagy_michael2

    Those jihadists are nothing but cowards and plain damned ignorant. Allah do not wish you to die like that in his name. You will all burn in hell for this one and many others.. there will not be 70 virgins more like 70 men waiting to whip you where the sun don’t shine.

  • Fauzia45

    They planned and chose the time!!!

  • Fauzia45

    They planned and chose the time!!!

  • Beiruti

    Perpetrator: Hezbollah.
    Reason: To gain some pity before the STL makes a verdict.

    • Hannibal

      I am no fan of HA but you know this is not true. Anecdotal at best!

      • Guest

        Hey

      • Beiruti

        There is no confirmed evidence that it was a Sunni group and anyone can claim responsibility for an attack these days. No doubt my statement was an anecdotal, but who said it’s not a possibility? Hitler burned down the Reichstag to hold and gain support; fear is the best way to keep a population in check, people are willing to sacrifice personal freedoms if their safety is guaranteed. You’re telling me you believe Hezbollah wouldn’t harm “Fellow Shias” for personal reasons? *Cough* *Cough* HA v. Amal in the 80s.

        • cook

          I dont know, there is typical wahhabi trademarks all over this terrorist act, but while we’re on the topic: I do actually suspect the first car bomb in Beirut, that went off in Dahieh in July was an inside job by the shaitan – no cameras allowed, no deaths (though plenty of injuries? most seemed to have recovered quickly though) and too little cars parked in the streets.

        • man-o-war

          This could be said about every attack that has occurred in Lebanon. Maybe the rebels shot at Arsal and killed the children to make Lebanese turn on HA. Maybe the Tripoli mosque bombings were done by the Sunni to turn the country against HA, see how easy and ridiculous that sounds..

          • Beiruti

            Yeah except those Sunni groups have no international trial which is about to bring their organization to an end.

          • man-o-war

            You make absolutely no sense with this reply, but nice try. I guess having an international trial (which is unusual in itself and highly suspicious) means you’re the only group capable of committing false flag operations. Interesting ideas coming out of you, about as interesting as the crap I take every morning.

        • man-o-war

          This could be said about every attack that has occurred in Lebanon. Maybe the rebels shot at Arsal and killed the children to make Lebanese turn on HA. Maybe the Tripoli mosque bombings were done by the Sunni to turn the country against HA, see how easy and ridiculous that sounds..

        • man-o-war

          This could be said about every attack that has occurred in Lebanon. Maybe the rebels shot at Arsal and killed the children to make Lebanese turn on HA. Maybe the Tripoli mosque bombings were done by the Sunni to turn the country against HA, see how easy and ridiculous that sounds..

        • Farq2

          That’s what amuses me most from the likes of people like you, blaming HA at any chance you get. Even though we know damn well they had nothing to do with it. Don’t you get tired of the same old crap you spin.

        • Farq2

          That’s what amuses me most from the likes of people like you, blaming HA at any chance you get. Even though we know damn well they had nothing to do with it. Don’t you get tired of the same old crap you spin.

        • Farq2

          That’s what amuses me most from the likes of people like you, blaming HA at any chance you get. Even though we know damn well they had nothing to do with it. Don’t you get tired of the same old crap you spin.

          • nagy_michael2

            well you folks accused Saad Harrir of killing his father and according to Aoun Wisman al hassan fault because he didn’t have good security. I mean how low can you guys go..

          • Farq2

            Not as low as your buddy ASSir which btw how’s he doing these days, hope your taking good care of him. Hopefully he will promise you 72 virgins and you strap yourself with a bomb or 20.

          • nagy_michael2

            I am taking care of Assir because he promised me Nassrallah and you.. I do not need any virgins i have columbians and you can ask libnan1 for it…

          • man-o-war

            Nag told me his true feelings about the homosexuals not too long ago, “No I hate homosexual religious or not.. Assir was a victim of hezbollah and i have a great admiration for the man”.
            So, I think your safe from him preying on you. Unless he’s still in the closet about his homosexuality.

          • Hind Abyad

            One of the Zionist trolls..look at their names, beiruti, lebanorigin, Crook2half..
            same hate same lalking points giving each others upies and give me downies
            for saying Hi..

    • man-o-war

      Your ignorance shines with this comment. You should be proud!

      • Farq2

        And it shines as clear as day.

        • barabie

          How unusual, the zionists and shite joining together. Who would’ve thought. (Insert sarcasm)

  • Beiruti

    Perpetrator: Hezbollah.
    Reason: To gain some pity before the STL makes a verdict.

    • Hannibal

      I am no fan of HA but you know this is not true. Anecdotal at best!

      • cook2half

        Hey

      • Beiruti

        There is no confirmed evidence that it was a Sunni group and anyone can claim responsibility for an attack these days. No doubt my statement was an anecdotal, but who said it’s not a possibility? Hitler burned down the Reichstag to hold and gain support; fear is the best way to keep a population in check, people are willing to sacrifice personal freedoms if their safety is guaranteed. You’re telling me you believe Hezbollah wouldn’t harm “Fellow Shias” for personal reasons? *Cough* *Cough* HA v. Amal in the 80s.

        • cook2half

          I dont know, there is typical wahhabi trademarks all over this terrorist act, but while we’re on the topic: I do actually suspect the first car bomb in Beirut, that went off in Dahieh in July was an inside job by the shaitan – no cameras allowed, no deaths (though plenty of injuries? most seemed to have recovered quickly though) and too little cars parked in the streets.

        • man-o-war

          This could be said about every attack that has occurred in Lebanon. Maybe the rebels shot at Arsal and killed the children to make Lebanese turn on HA. Maybe the Tripoli mosque bombings were done by the Sunni to turn the country against HA, see how easy and ridiculous that sounds..

          • Beiruti

            Yeah except those Sunni groups have no international trial which is about to bring their organization to an end.

          • man-o-war

            You make absolutely no sense with this reply, but nice try.

        • Farq2

          That’s what amuses me most from the likes of people like you, blaming HA at any chance you get. Even though we know damn well they had nothing to do with it. Don’t you get tired of the same old crap you spin.

          • nagy_michael2

            well you folks accused Saad Harrir of killing his father and according to Aoun Wisman al hassan fault because he didn’t have good security. I mean how low can you guys go..

          • Farq2

            Not as low as your buddy ASSir which btw how’s he doing these days, hope your taking good care of him. Hopefully he will promise you 72 virgins and you strap yourself with a bomb or 20.

          • nagy_michael2

            I am taking care of Assir because he promised me Nassrallah and you.. I do not need any virgins i have columbians and you can ask libnan1 for it…

          • man-o-war

            Nag told me his true feelings about the homosexuals not too long ago, “No I hate homosexual religious or not.. Assir was a victim of hezbollah and i have a great admiration for the man”.
            So, I think your safe from him preying on you. Unless he’s still in the closet about his homosexuality.

          • Hind Abyad

            One of the Zionist trolls..look at their names, beiruti, lebanorigin, Crook2half..
            same hate same lalking points giving each others upies and give me downies
            for saying Hi..

    • man-o-war

      Your ignorance shines with this comment. You should be proud!

      • Farq2

        And it shines as clear as day.

        • barabie

          How unusual, the zionists and shite joining together. Who would’ve thought. (Insert sarcasm)