x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Mysterious blast in southern Beirut

At least three people are killed in a blast that shakes Hezbollah's stronghold amid reports it could have targeted the Palestinian Hamas movement.

Three people were killed in a mysterious blast in Hezbollah's stronghold in southern Beirut, security officials said today, including two members of the Palestinian Islamist group Hamas. "The death toll from Saturday night's explosion has risen to three, when of the wounded died of his injuries," a Lebanese security official said, without identifying the victims.

A photographer said the blast occurred in an alley in Harek Hreik, metres away from a community centre where Hizbollah was organising a ceremony to commemorate the Shiite rituals of Ashura.

Hizbollah and Hamas are both close allies and arch-foes of Israel. In 2006 Israel waged a devastating 34-day war on Hizbollah in Lebanon, which devastated the southern suburbs and killed more than 1,200 Lebanese, mostly civilians, and more than 160 Israelis, mostly soldiers. The blast also came on the eve of the first anniversary of Israel's 22-day offensive on the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip during which some 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

Shiites in Iraq, Iran and Lebanon wrap up on Sunday the annual 10-day Ashura rituals which commemorate the killing of Imam Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Mohammed, by armies of the Sunni caliph Yazid in 680. Hizbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah has called on Lebanon's Shiites to take part massively in Sunday's ceremony which will include a huge march across the southern suburbs. * AFP