Explosions at a Hizbullah weapons cache in the Bekaa Valley in eastern Lebanon killed nine people on Wednesday, among them Hizbullah members, AFP reported.
A local security official told AFP that nine people were killed and seven wounded in the blasts. He said four Syrian migrant workers were among the casualties, adding that one or more of them might have been among the dead.
Hizbullah said three of its members were killed in what it said was an accident at the storage depot.
“Sources from the Resistance (Hizbullah’s military wing) reported that a blast took place in an arms depot of shells, ammunition and remnants of Israel's shelling in the area," the group said in a statement carried by its Al-Manar television channel.
"This unfortunate blast led to the martyrdom of three fighters. Work is continuing in order to deal with the accident, in coordination with the relevant agencies," it added.
Residents told AFP the arms depot was concealed in a building still under construction in an uninhabited area between the villages of Nabishit and Khodr close to the Syrian border.
"No one knew there was an arms depot in the area," resident Ali al-Moussawi was quoted as having said, adding, "When people heard the blast, people were frightened, especially families with children."
On Tuesday, a senior Hizbullah commander was buried in the Bekaa valley, the Shiite movement said, as Syrian rebels claimed he was killed in Syria.
Ali Hussein Nassif, alias Abu Abbas, "died while performing his jihadist duties," Hizbullah-affiliated website moqawama.org. said, without specifying how, when or where the commander was killed.
A Syrian rebel commander told AFP that Nassif was killed inside Syria by an improvised mine near the besieged rebel-held town of Qusayr.
A report last week indicated that Hizbullah has increased the size and scope of its assistance to the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, as he fights to retain his position as leader of Syria in the face of a wide-ranging rebellion.
According to the report in The Washington Post, Hizbullah has sent special advisors to Syria in order to assist Assad in beating back rebel forces.
Official sources in the Lebanese government said that Hizbullah has been offering not only advice, but also taking an active part in the fighting against rebels. The sources added that more and more of the casualties on the Syrian side consist of Hizbullah recruits. There has been a marked increase in the number of funerals of young men in Hizbullah-controlled areas in southern Lebanon, they added, with families refusing to reveal the reasons for their death. That is because, they said, Hizbullah has demanded that the families keep the reasons for their death secret.