At least 8 killed including top official in Beirut car blast

The deadly attack took place in the busy street near Sassine Square, of Ashrafiya district that is predominantly inhabited by Christians.

Zeenews Bureau

Beirut: At least eight people were killed and more than 80 were injured in a deadly car bomb blast in Lebanon capital, central Beirut, on Friday evening.

In the massive powerful blast, a senior Lebanese intelligence official Wissam al-Hassan succumbed to the injuries, security sources told anews agency on condition of anonymity.

He was said to be close to opposition leader Saad Hariri.

The bombing was targeting the convoy of Wissam El Hassan, head of the Internal Security Forces` information branch, the sources said, revealing to Xinhua that the brigadier general was killed on the spot.

According to a report, the attack took place outside a residential building on the busy street near Sassine Square, of Ashrafiya district that is predominantly inhabited by Christians. The area is said to be close to the headquarters of Hariri`s 14 March coalition, the Christian party, better known as the Phalange, which is hostile to the Syrian regime led by President Bashar al-Assad.

Many parents were reportedly picking up their children from school.

No group has yet claimed the responsibility for the deafening blast.

Police evacuated the residential building and medics rushed to the scene to rescue the many injured, medical sources said. Doctors also asked people to come forward to donate blood to the wounded victims.
Flames were seen burning in the blast zone and glass splinters were seen scattered on the ground, apparently from the shattered window panes of some nearby residential and commercial buildings.

Meanwhile, Lebanese opposition leaders have accused Syrian government to be behind the blast. Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the government was trying to identify the perpetrators and vowed to punish them.

However, Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi described it as `cowardly terrorist act`.

The reason behind tensions in Lebanon is mainly the religious faction between the Sunnis and the Shias.

Sunnis back the Syrian rebels who are protesting against the regime of President Assad while Shias support his government.

(With Agency inputs)