A car-bomb explosion in a low-income neighborhood of Moslem West Beirut killed two persons today and brought to 28 the death toll from such incidents in the last 24 hours.
As with two explosions yesterday, responsibility for today's blast was claimed by the Front for the Liberation of Lebanon From Foreigners, focusing attention on yet another shadowy terrorist group within Lebanon's tangled web of violence.
"Our organization will continue its operations until there is not a single foreigner or plotter alive on the territories of greater Lebanon," an Arabic-speaking caller told Agence France-Presse here.
Although little is known of the front, it has cropped up occasionally during the past two years.
Its targets have included military vehicles belonging to the all-Syrian Arab Deterrent Force, a bar frequented by Syrian officers, a Greek Catholic patriarch known for his close ties to Syria, members of Yasser Arafat's mainstream Palestinian guerrilla organization, Al Fatah, and the former U.S. ambassador in Beirut, John Gunther Dean.
Last summer, Dean escaped unharmed from a rocket attack on his motorcade in East Beirut. The assassination attempt followed statements by Dean criticizing an Israeli operation in southern Lebanon as an act of violence.
The only apparent connection between the targets was that they were foreign or aligned in some way with foreign interests in Lebanon, leading observers to believe that the group may spring from the Maronite Christian right.
In any case, little is known about the front's connections and personnel. Given the proliferation of groups in Lebanon, the various proxies who act for everyone in the area from Syrians to Israelis, it could be made up of any number of interests.
The Palestine Liberation Organization charged that the front was "fictitious" and a cover for Israeli operations against the Palestinians in southern Lebanon.
However, attributing terrorist attacks to fictious groups is also a tactic long employed by established militias in Lebanon's chaotic sectarian conflict.
Those responsible for the attacks could just as well be provocateurs out to disrupt the shaky three-month old cease-fire.
UPI also reported that the caller who claimed responsibility for Friday's blast said the front was based in West Germany but gave no details or reasons for the latest attack.
Washington Post correspondent Bradley Graham reported from Bonn that the Interior Ministry there said it had no knowledge of the organization in question.
However, a government report on terrorism released last month took special notice of an alarming increase recently in political violence by immigrant extremist groups.
West Germany's liberal asylum laws have tended to attract foreign groups, making it at least plausible that a Lebanese terrorist group could be based somewhere in West Germany.
Regardless of the specific aims of the front, Lebanese civilians have been bearing the brunt of the violence.
The pattern of such fatal attacks seems to follow periods of strained stability, such as the current cease-fire.
The latest series of blasts comes a little less than a week after the opening of the Museum Road, a link between mainly Moslem West and predominantly Christian East Beirut.
It has also marred hopes of unblocking the Sodeco crossing point, closed to civilian traffic since the outbreak of fighting in April, along Beirut's volatile midcity Green Line separating east and west.
A well-informed political source said the government had received a confidential report saying the issue of the crossing points would bring a wave of "terror and tension" from parties interested in keeping them closed.
"The fear and uncertainty brought on by car bombs will fuel insecurity and apprehension by the Christian and Moslem communities of rushing to interact again," the source added.
In today's attack a car exploded in a narrow street in the Lebanese Shiite Moslem section of Hayy al Sullom. In addition to the two deaths, Lebanese radio reported that several persons were injured.