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Car Bomb Injures at Least 7 in Beirut Suburb

Explosion Rocks Christian Area

Associated Press
Saturday, March 19, 2005; Page A18

BEIRUT, March 19 -- A car bomb rocked a predominantly Christian neighborhood in northern Beirut early Saturday, destroying part of a building and wounding at least seven people, police said.

The explosion left a seven-foot-deep crater in the road and shattered windows for several blocks in the New Jdeideh neighborhood.

Rescue workers and security forces inspect the site of a car bombing in a mainly Christian neighborhood of Beirut. The attack came at a time of political turmoil in Lebanon following the assassination former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. (Mohamed Azakir -- Reuters)

_____Lebanon FAQ:_____
Lebanon FAQ: Frequently asked questions about the political situation in Lebanon and the country's relationship with Syria.

The bomb blew off the first- and second-story facades of a building and damaged parked cars and shops in the vicinity.

The attack came at a time of political turmoil in Lebanon following the Feb. 14 assassination of former prime minister Rafiq Hariri. Many Lebanese have blamed the killing on Syria, which has had thousands of troops and intelligence agents stationed in Lebanon since 1976. After calls for Syrian withdrawal by foreign leaders and the Lebanese political opposition, Syrian troops have been pulled back, either to eastern Lebanon or out of the country all together.

The target of the attack was not clear. Witnesses said a car attempted to stop in front of a bingo hall, but security guards told its driver to keep moving. The driver then parked the car a short way down the road. Minutes later, it exploded.

Lebanese television broadcast pictures of shaken residents standing in the street outside the damaged building. An elderly white-haired woman sat in a chair, looking dazed.

At least seven people were treated for injuries as ambulances and fire trucks converged on the scene. A man rushed up screaming: "Where is my mother?" He was told by soldiers she was with the Red Cross.

The Reuters news agency reported:

Witnesses said the vehicle containing the bomb appeared to have been in a parking lot.

"I was standing under this building and we heard a huge explosion and there was a big cloud of dust, and glass flew everywhere. We saw this car just fly into the air and land on the street right in front of us," said witness Rany Ayoub.

The bingo hall was undamaged, except for some broken windows.

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