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A car bomb in Beirut: Photos of Lebanon in shock

What appears to have been a car bomb detonated in the Lebanese capital of Beirut Friday morning, shaking a country that has feared the spread of violence from neighboring, war-torn Syria. "Those who've lived through Lebanon's wars say today's explosion inevitable result of conflict in Syria," NPR's Kelly McEvers wrote on Twitter. "Many surprised it took this long."

We still don't know who planted the bomb in downtown Sassine Square, where it has killed at least eight so far, or why. Elias Muhanna, a blogger on Lebanese news, pointed to an August Al-Monitor story for political context. The article explored the implications of Lebanon's arrest of Michel Samaha, a former Lebanese politician believed to have ties to the Syrian regime, on charges of planning to bring explosive into Lebanon from Syria.

For the moment, all we can know with any certainty is what's happening on the ground in Beirut. That story is hinted at in these dramatic, and at some points harrowing, photos from Friday.

A Lebanese firefighter tries to control flames at the scene of a large explosion, believed to be a car bomb, in Beirut. (Hussein Malla -- AP)

A policeman helps a wounded woman away from the scene of a car blast in Beirut's Christian neighborhood of Ashrafieh. (AFP/Getty)

Onlookers gather near the scene of the Beirut car explosion, the first such attack in the city since 2008. (AFP/Getty)

A screenshot from Lebanon's Al Jadeed TV shows onlookers directing members of a family who were stuck on the fourth floor of an apartment building next to the blast site, according to photographer Imad Bazzi. (Al Jadeed)

Receding smoke reveals piles of rubble and shattered apartment blocks. (Hussein Malla -- AP)

A Beirut firefighter carries a terrified boy from the scene of the explosion. (Hussein Malla -- AP)

Security officers arrive at the blast site, where they direct onlookers. Firefighters can be seen on the damaged balcony of an overlooking apartment, from which they had reportedly rescued trapped civilians. (Patrick Baz --AFP/Getty)

A local man carries an injured woman from the blast site. (Hussein Malla -- AP)

A Lebanese soldier guards the scene of a car blast in Beirut. (Patrick Baz/AFP/Getty)

Forensic experts arrive at the blast site, where the explosion had blown back some of the distinctive Lebanese trees not destroyed by the initial explosion. (Anwar Amro -- AFP/Getty)

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Max Fisher · October 19, 2012

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