Thursday, November 12, 2015

Lebanon: ISIS claims responsibility for 2 Palestinian suicide bombers killing 43 and wounding 239 in Beirut

BEIRUT (Daily Star): Two suicide bombers blew themselves up on a crowded street in a southern Beirut suburb Thursday, killing at least 43 people and wounding more than 200 in an attack claimed by ISIS and one of the deadliest to strike the country since the outbreak of the Syrian crisis, officials said.

A third suicide bomber was also killed when the second attacker blew himself up, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour told reporters, saying many of the wounded were in critical condition.

The attack during evening rush hour in the suburb of Burj al-Barajneh resembled the series of car bombs and suicide blasts carried out by Syria-based extremists targeting Shiite areas of the country in 2013 and early 2014 in response to Hezbollah's intervention in the Syrian war.

"People were lying on the floor, bloody, dead," one man told television reporters from the site of the attack.

A witness told The Daily Star that crowds of people began to gather after hearing an explosion outside a coffee stand in the neighborhood of Ain al-Sikke. As they rushed to the site, a second blast went off roughly one minute later near a bakery about 30 meters away.

ISIS claimed the attack in a statement posted online, saying the first attacker rode into a crowd of "heretics" on a motorbike. It used deregotive terms to refer to Shiites and Hezbollah.

"A soldier of the caliphate blew himself up in the stronghold of the heretics, and after the apostates crowded around the site of the explosion, a second martyr blew himself up using his explosive belt," the statement read.

The extremist group vowed more attacks against Shiites.

The Lebanese Army confirmed that two suicide attackers were behind the attack. In a statement, it said the corpse of the third suicide bomber showed that his explosive belt was not triggered by the blast that killed him.

A photo alleged to be of the third suicide bomber broadcast on television showed him lying on the ground face up in a blue shirt with a pink Adidas logo and an in-tact suicide belt secured around his waste.

One man told television reporters that he was at home talking on the phone when he heard the first blast outside his apartment. He said he ran to the balcony and saw dozens of people rushing toward the area when the second bomb went off.

"I've been living in the suburbs all my life. I want to get out of here. It would be more honorable if I died in the sea," he said.

Most local residents were charged with defiance, with crowds shouting pro-Hezbollah chants.

The Health Ministry put the casualty toll at 43 dead and 239 wounded.