At Least Four Dead as Car Bomb Rocks Eastern Lebanese Town
A car bomb has ripped through the eastern Lebanese town of Hermel, in the Bekaa region, killing at least four people.
The bomb apparently detonated at a gas station in Zahraa neighborhood of the town, which is a stronghold of the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist group. Lebanon's Daily Star said eyewitnesses reported seeing fires raging at the site, which some reports say was near a school.
The attack appears to have been the work of a suicide bomber, with numerous reports describing how a Grand Cherokee jeep drove up to the Aytam gas station and then exploded, sending flames shooting into the night sky.
At least 21 people have been injured, according to local media, but casualty figures are expected to rise as more information becomes available.
Grainy Footage from the scene of blast shows panicked crowds running to and from the site, which is engulfed in flames and smoke.
Two weeks earlier, a car bomb in the same town killed five people and left scores more wounded.
Sunni Islamist groups have repeatedly targeted the Shia Islamist Hezbollah in retaliation for its role in the Syrian civil war, in which Hezbollah fighters have provided key support to forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against Sunni rebel forces.
The previous attack in Hermel was claimed by the Lebanese branch of the Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda-linked group which has been fighting against the Assad regime in Syria.
Tension have also been heightened in Lebanon in recent weeks as four men are currently being tried for the murder of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. The four, all of them alleged Hezbollah members, have not been apprehended and will be tried in absentia.
They are charged of involvement in Hariri’s assassination in 2005. Hariri and 22 others were killed when a massive car bomb was set off near his convoy.
Many of Hariri’s supporters blamed Syria and its ally Hezbollah for the attack. Hezbollah denies involvement, and has blamed Israel and the United States for the killings.