Suicide bomber kills security officer, wounds 19 in Beirut

A suicide bomber blew up his car in Beirut on Monday night near an Army checkpoint, killing a security officer and wounding several people watching the soccer World Cup in a nearby cafe.

Reuters| Last Updated: Jun 24, 2014, 14:16 PM IST

Beirut: A suicide bomber blew up his car in Beirut on Monday night near an Army checkpoint, killing a security officer and wounding several people watching the soccer World Cup in a nearby cafe.

Security forces have been on high alert since a suicide bomber killed one person and wounded 37 near the Syrian border on Friday in an attack that narrowly missed Major General Abbas Ibrahim, head of Lebanon`s General Security department.

One security source said before Monday night`s explosion that security forces were hunting for two potential suicide bombers in the Lebanese capital. 

Lebanon has suffered a wave of sectarian violence linked to the war in Syria which, like its neighbour Iraq, is fighting a Sunni insurgency. Militants, including the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), are sweeping through the north and west of Iraq towards the Shi`ite-led government in Baghdad. "What is happening in Iraq isn`t far from what is happening in Lebanon, but Lebanon will not let ISIL spread here," lawmaker Ali Ammar, from the Shi`ite militant and political group Hezbollah, told Al-Manar television.
Monday`s explosion, shortly before midnight (2100 GMT), killed the bomber and wounded 19 people, Lebanon`s civil defence force said. An emergency worker at the nearby Sahel hospital said it treated 11 slightly wounded people.

Two security sources said on Tuesday that a member of the security services had also been killed when the Mercedes car packed with 25 kg (55 pounds) of explosives detonated.

Lebanon`s state-run news agency identified him as Abdul Kareem Hodrej, an officer in Lebanon`s General Security forces. 
Reuters television footage from the scene showed the blackened wreckage of a car, surrounded by damaged vehicles. 

Windows in nearby buildings were shattered by the blast, which occurred in a mainly Shi`ite Muslim district of southern Beirut inhabited by supporters of Hezbollah-allied group, Amal.

Hezbollah has been fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad`s forces in Syria against the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels, who have also been supported by Lebanese Sunnis. 

The conflict has spilled over into Lebanon, with rocket attacks on Shi`ite towns in the Bekaa Valley, close to the border with Syria, and bombings of Shi`ite and Sunni targets in Lebanon`s main coastal cities.