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27 killed and over 350 wounded in Lebanon car bomb blasts

The attacks happened in the city of Tripoli. It’s reported a number of children are among the dead.

Image: STR/AP/Press Association Images

POWERFUL CAR BOMBS outside two Sunni Muslim mosques in the Lebanese city of Tripoli, have killed at least 27 people and wounding over 350, according to the country’s Health Minister.

“Up to now, there are 27 martyrs and 352 wounded in hospitals,” Ali Hassan Khalil said on television, without saying whether this was the final toll.

Both explosions took place as worshippers were filing out after weekly Muslim prayers, in a city where Sunni supporters of rebels in neighbouring Syria frequently clash with Alawites, who support the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

The first blast hit in the city centre and was also near the home of outgoing Prime Minister Najib Mikati, although his office said he was not in Tripoli at the time.

The second struck near the port of the restive city with a Sunni majority, close to the home of former police chief Ashraf Rifi, a security source said.

An AFP reporter saw a number of charred bodies near the Al-Taqwa mosque and the bodies of five children brought out from it.

Lebanese television channels aired footage of the dead, of buildings with their fronts blown in and vehicles ablaze, as bystanders rushed to help the wounded.

image

Lebanese army soldiers stand next to a blast crater outside a mosque

(STR/AP/Press Association Images)

The explosions come a week after a suicide car bombing killed 27 people in a Beirut stronghold of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, which is fighting alongside Assad’s forces.

On Wednesday, army chief General Jean Kahwaji said his forces were fighting a “total war” against terrorism whose aim is “to provoke sectarian strife” in the country.

Tripoli, on the Mediterranean coast around 85km north of the capital Beirut , has seen frequent Syria-related violence over the past two years, including waves of deadly clashes.

Though Lebanon is officially neutral in Syria’s conflict, the country is deeply divided, with Hezbollah and its allies backing Assad and the opposition supporting the rebels.

There were no Irish troops in the region, a spokesperson for the Defence Forces confirmed to TheJournal.ie. All Irish peacekeeping forces are located in southern Lebanon.

- Additional reporting, Daragh Brophy

Read: Egypt’s ousted leader Hosni Mubarak released from prison

Read: Syrian forces bomb area of alleged chemical attack

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