Aftermath of Beirut bomb, 2nd Jan. 2014
Aftermath of Beirut bomb, 2nd Jan. 2014Reuters

At least five people have been killed and 20 wounded in a car bomb which hit a southern suburb of the Lebanese capital Beirut, media and officials say.

The suburb is a stronghold of the Shiite terrorist militia Hezbollah.

The BBC says the bomb is not one of the biggest of the recent incidents, but its impact was considerable because it was detonated during rush-hour.

Hezbollah's al-Manar TV station said the blast destroyed part of a facade of a building in a densely populated area of Haret Hreik district.

The attack is the latest in a string of bombings in southern Beirut that reflect Shiite-Sunni hatred exacerbated by the Syrian civil war, in which Hezbollah has taken an active part beside Bashar Assad's government forces.

Former minister Mohamad Shattah, a Sunni critic of Hezbollah, was killed by a car bomb last Friday.

Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri blamed Hezbollah for that attack but it has denied any involvement. Shattah was an adviser to Saad Hariri's father, former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, and a staunch critic of Iranian-backed Hezbollah. Hariri and 21 others were killed in a car bomb attack in Beirut in February 2005; the attack was blamed on Hezbollah.

No-one has yet claimed responsibility for the latest blast.

A November attack on the Iranian embassy, in the same part of the city as Thursday's bomb, left 23 people dead, including the cultural attaché of the embassy, Ebrahim al-Ansari.

Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Rokn Abadi told al-Manar television that al-Ansari died from wounds he sustained in the attack. 

Majid al-Majid, the Saudi "emir" of the al-Qaeda-linked Abdullah Azzam Brigades, took credit for that attack and said that attacks would continue in Lebanon until Iranian and Hezbollah forces stopped fighting alongside government forces in Syria. He was reportedly arrested Wednesday.