Car bomb kills five in Beirut

The blast killed five people in Hezbollah's stronghold in southern Beirut on Thursday.

FILE: The blast killed five people in Hezbollah's stronghold in southern Beirut on Thursday. Picture: AFP

BEIRUT - A car bomb killed at least five people in Hezbollah's stronghold in southern Beirut on Thursday, the latest in a series of deadly attacks on Shi'ite and Sunni targets in Lebanon.

Several other cars were destroyed by the force of the blast, the blackened and twisted wreckage smouldering on the street in front of buildings whose facades were torn off by the explosion.

Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said five people were killed and 66 wounded.

People at the scene said that in addition to the five confirmed dead, the charred remains of a body was found on Thursday evening.

A security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the body was that of a suicide bomber.

The explosion occurred less than a week after former finance minister Mohamad Chatah, a critic of the Shi'ite Hezbollah militant group and its ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was killed along with six others by a car bomb in Beirut.

Last summer, bombs exploded in southern Beirut and outside two Sunni Muslim mosques in the northern city of Tripoli, killing scores of people.

Bombers also struck the embassy of Hezbollah's Iranian backers in southern Beirut in November.

The violence has been fuelled by sectarian tensions over the conflict in neighbouring Syria, where Assad is fighting Sunni Muslim rebels battling to overthrow him.

Assad is from the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ism.

Hezbollah has sent fighters to join Assad's forces, while Lebanese Sunni Muslim fighters have supported the rebels.