Twin explosions Tuesday near the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon, killed more than 20 people, including Iran’s cultural attaché, according to reports from The Associated Press and other news outlets. Dozens more people were injured.
From Beirut, producer Rima Marrouch tells our Newscast Desk that the blasts happened around 10 a.m. local time (3 a.m. ET).
The New York Times writes that the Beirut neighborhood where the attack occurred “is populated by Shiite Muslims. Apart from the Iranian diplomatic representation, the area also houses an office of the Shiite Amal Party, an ally of Hezbollah, a Lebanese militant group that is sponsored by Tehran and which has sent its militia forces to fight rebels in neighboring Syria.”
The Times also says the attack “seemed to fit a pattern of deepening sectarian division across the region inspired by the civil war in Syria.”
As the BBC adds, “South Beirut, including the area around the Iranian embassy, is considered a Hezbollah stronghold. It has been hit by several attacks in recent months.”
Al-Jazeera America notes that “Syrian rebels have threatened to target allies of Syrian President Bashar Assad in Lebanon.”
Reuters reports that an “al-Qaida-linked” brigade known as the Abdullah Azzam has claimed responsibility. The terrorist network is among the groups that have been fighting against the Assad regime.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether the explosions were from car bombs, suicide bombers, rocket fire or some combination of those.