Two suicide car bombs have targeted an Iranian cultural centre in Beirut, killing six people in the latest attack linked to the conflict in neighbouring Syria.
The attack was quickly claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a jihadist group inspired by al-Qaeda that previously claimed a double suicide bombing aimed at Iran’s embassy in Beirut.
Jihadists have carried out a string of attacks in Lebanon targeting both Iran and the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, which provide vital support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime as it battles a Sunni-led rebellion.
The health ministry said six people were killed and 129 others wounded, with the army saying one of the cars was loaded with 90kg of explosives and the other with 75kg.
The blasts, in the capital’s southern district of Bir Hassan, sent a large plume of smoke over the area and caused widespread damage.
Emergency teams carried wounded people away from a charred street strewn with rubble, as local residents armed with fire extinguishers helped firefighters put out blazes.
The arms of a wounded man hung limply from the sides of a yellow stretcher as he was carried from the scene.
Prime Minister Tammam Salam condemned the attack, saying it was a “message reflecting the determination of the forces of evil to harm Lebanon and its children and sow discord”.
“The message has been received and we will respond to it with solidarity and commitment to civil accord and rallying around our army and our security forces.