Lebanon car bombings kill dozens outside mosques

Saturday, August 24, 2013

42 or more people have died, the Lebanese health ministry says, and over 500 wounded, from two car bomb explosions yesterday in the largely Sunni Muslim Lebanese city of Tripoli. The blasts occurred outside of the Taqwa and al-Salam mosques while hundreds of worshipers were gathered for Friday noon prayer. There has been reportedly no claim for responsibility as yet.

The first explosion, near the Taqwa mosque, reportedly occurred at 1:50pm local time (1050 UTC) killing 14 or more. The second, in which further deaths were reported, was caused by 100 kilograms of explosives according to the Interior Ministry. The imams of both mosques, Salafists Sheikh Salem al-Rafei and Bilal Baroudi, were unharmed in the attacks.

There have also been reports of unidentified gunmen firing into the air, hurling rocks at soldiers, and blocking roads near the blast sites.

A week earlier, a car bomb in Beirut killed 24 or more and left several hundred wounded.

Hezbollah condemned both the Tripoli explosions which they said they believed were part of "an effort to plunge Lebanon into chaos and destruction". Lebanese Defence Minister Fayez Ghosn said "We are calling for calm and vigilance, because the aim of [these blasts] is to stoke strife between sects".