Beirut, Lebanon – A massive explosion killed 7 people while some were injured when the bomb exploded in central Beirut last Friday afternoon.
According to state news, the car bomb, so powerful that it shook through the center of Beirut’s Christian sector, killing a top security official and 7 others in an attack that threatened to bring the war in Syria directly to Lebanon. The blast cut off the balconies off apartment buildings, toppled cars and sent dazed rescue workers carrying bloodied children into the streets.
Dozens were wounded in the blast, the worst that Lebanese capital has ever experience for the past 4 years. According to the state-run news agency, the target was Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, head of the intelligence division of Lebanon’s domestic security forces.
Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, 47 years old, headed an investigation last summer that led to the arrest of former Information Minister Michel Samaha, one of Syria’s most loyal allies in Lebanon.
The car bomb took place during Friday afternoon rush hour in East Beirut’s cosmopolitan Ashrafiyeh district, a prime Christian and crowded area complete with shops, churches and office buildings. The district is considered among the safest in the city, according to Aram Nerguizian, who teaches around the block from the attack site.
Apparently, 1 car was engulfed in flames, blackened shatters littered the street, and windows were blown out. Shattered glasses were everywhere.
The number of injured person was unclear: Lebanon’s National News Agency stated that 8 people died and more than 90 were injured, but it later amended the figure to at least 3 deaths and 110 injuries.
Blood covered dwellers fled their homes while others tried to help people who were seriously wounded. 1 little girl among others, apparently unconscious and bleeding from her head, was carried to an ambulance in the arms of a rescue worker.
According to a paramedic, Al-Hassan’s body was so damaged in the blast that his bodyguards only recognized him from his sneakers.
A Lebanese security official added that al-Hassan, who was married with 2 children, had just returned from visiting family in Paris. He was either on his way to or from work in a non-armored car with his driver, who also was among the victims of the blast.