||Achrafieh 16 September 2005
Powerful Bomb Devastates Densely Populated Beirut
Neighborhood, 1 killed, 25 Injured by:
A powerful bomb ripped through a
densely populated Beirut neighborhood five minutes before midnight, killing a
Lebanese Armenian and wounding 25 persons in a savage persistence of
destabilizing attacks that rocked Lebanon since Syria's evacuation.
The explosion went off in Ashrafiyeh's middle class district of Jeitawi as the
nation's top officials are abroad. President Lahoud and Premier Seniora are at
the United Nations and Parliament Speaker Berri is vacationing with his wife in
It struck a 4-storey building near a bank and a hospital at a Jeitawi alleyway,
wreaking extensive destruction across the neighborhood. Balconies were torn off
buildings overlooking the scene, where cars were still smoldering Saturday
morning. Glass shards of smashed windows littered areas within a one-mile
Maj. Gen. Ashraf Rifi, commander of the Internal Security Forces, said the
explosive had been placed in a bag that was hidden between two cars, and
detonated with a timing device.
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The Agence France Presse quoted
security services as saying a 10-to-20 kilogram bomb exploded in the stairways
of a building, noting that initial reports spoke of a car bomb.
Investigating magistrate Rashid Mezher said Saturday a woman resident saw two
young men placing two suitcases between two parked cars before running off. Her
son, who ran across the alley to warn customers at a nearby cafe, was wounded
in the blast, judicial sources said.
An LBCI reporter said the explosion went off near the coffee shop, killing its
Lebanese Armenian owner and wounding 25 people in and around the café.
Ambulances with wailing sirens rushed victims off to the nearby St. Georges and
Jeitawi hospitals. One Injured person was reported in a very serious condition.
The blast came days ahead of an expected visit by Chief U.N. investigator
Detlev Mehlis to Damascus to interview senior Syrian officials over the
deadliest of Lebanon's recent bomb attacks — the Feb. 14 one-ton bomb that
killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, ex-Economy Minister Bassel Fleihan
and 21 others.
An anti-Syrian legislator accused the remnants of Syria's security apparatus of
being behind Friday's blast. "The remains of the Syrian and Lebanese security
regime are still present and they are behind this act," said Atef Majdalani, of
Saad Hariri's Tayyar al Mustaqbal movement.
Another anti-Syrian legislator and cabinet minister, Michel Pharaoun, also from
Hariri's group, said "it is for sure a message against stability in Lebanon."
He added that it comes before a planned conference to help Lebanon in New York
on Monday and ahead of the beginning of the U.N. probe into Syria's involvement
in Rafik Hariri's murder.
Many Lebanese have expressed worries that bombings could increase as the
investigation pushes forward. The U.N. team has already accused the four
pro-Syrian commanding generals of Lebanon's main security services with
complicity in Hariri's murder.
It was the 12th bomb attack in Lebanon since the February assassination of
Lebanese troops and police sealed off the area of the explosion which
reverberated across the entire capital. Fire engines battled to extinguish
fires and help evacuate residents.
"I was sleeping when I heard a loud explosion. I thought that it was an aerial
bombing," one resident, Angele, told AFP after running out of her nearby
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