VIDEO - At least 23 people were killed and 146 were injured Tuesday morning in two strong explosions near the Iranian Embassy in Lebanon. A senior Lebanese official said the cultural attaché at the embassy was among the dead.
According to one report, several rockets were fired at the area and at least one of them hit the building.
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The area of the blasts in southern Beirut is considered a Hezbollah stronghold. The Shiite organization is a close ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad and is helping him in his war against Syrian rebels.
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The official Lebanese news agency reported that according to an initial investigation, the first blast was caused by a suicide bomber and the second one was triggered by a terrorist driving a car bomb. According to estimates, the explosive devices weighed more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds).
According to the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Manar network, the two explosions were 90 seconds apart. The embassy building sustained heavy damage, according to the reports, and at least 10 vehicles caught fire.
Scene of blast (Photo: Reuters)
Eyewitnesses told the Hezbollah-affiliated al-Mayadeen network that the suicide bomber tried to enter the Iranian Embassy and that the embassy's security guards opened fire at him.
According to a correspondent of the Lebanese network, clerics and security guards were hurt in the blasts near the embassy.
'Zionist regime behind attack'
The Voice of Lebanon 93.3 radio station reported that the Iranian Embassy said it was not the target of the attack and that the Iranian ambassador was not hurt.
The Iranian ambassador pointed a finger at Israel in an interview to the al-Mayadeen network. "The Zionist regime and its agents are behind this terror attack," he said.
Lebanese security organizations are encircling the scene of the attack and rescue forces are attempting to assist the injured. The Hezbollah organization has stationed massive forces at the entrance to the Dahiya quarter.
The deadly attack comes several days after Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah made two rare performances in south Beirut in honor of the Shiite Ashura holiday. In a speech he delivered before the holiday, Nasrallah said: "Tomorrow nothing but will separate us from Hussein but Allah's will. No danger, no attack, no bloodshed and no car bomb."
Several terror attacks have taken place in Lebanon in recent months, including in the Dahiya controlled by Hezbollah. Dozens of people have been killed in the attack, which were believed to be acts of revenge over the involvement of Hassan Nasrallah's organization in the civil war in Syria.
Mustapha Allouch, a member of the al-Mustaqbal movement which opposes Hezbollah and the Syrian regime, condemned the attack but pointed an accusing finger at the Shiite organization.
"Hezbollah put Lebanon in a situation of Iraqization and into the furnace of the regional reality. We told Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah that the road to Syria is not a one-way but a two-way road. Everything we see is the result of Hezbollah's dependence on Iran."