Bomb explodes on busy Beirut street

Friday, July 22, 2005

Location of Lebanon

A bomb exploded on a busy, restaurant lined road, just 2 hours after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice left Beirut today, wounding at least twelve people.

Rice had made a surprise visit to pledge her support for Lebanon after the Syrian troop pull-out earlier this year.

The blast went off at about 10 p.m. in front of a restaurant on Monot Street and damaged three cars, a security official told The Associated Press.

The bomb is believed to have been placed either under or inside a parked car on a sideroad close to the privately run Saint Joseph University on the edge of Christian east Beirut. LBC Television initially said that 6 people had been injured, mostly by flying glass and that the car belonged to local resident Joseph Nadim. The estimate on the number of injured has since risen to 12.

The attack was a "message" to the new government, announced this week and dominated by anti-Syrian ministers, said Tourism Minister Joseph Sarkis. He said the blast aimed to shake security and scare off the thousands of tourists, mainly from oil-rich Gulf countries, who spend summer vacations in Lebanon.

"It is a message against the government, against national reconciliation and national unity," Sarkis told the Dubai-based Al-Arabiya satellite channel.