STORY HIGHLIGHTS


Beirut car blast

CNC report from Beirut
Added On August 16, 2013

A powerful car bomb has struck the stronghold of Lebanon's Shiite movement Hezbollah in the capital Beirut.

At least 17 people have been killed and more than 200 wounded.

The bloodshed has further raised fears of more sectarian violence fuelled by the continuing conflict in neighboring Syria.

The neighborhood of Zahiyeh is reduced to rubble.

And the mass devastation is believed to be caused by a car bomb, with around 50 kg of explosives, which exploded on Thursday evening.

So far, at least 17 people have been confirmed dead and 212 others wounded.

Nearby buildings have also been seriously damaged and it's feared some people might have been trapped inside. 

A Sunni Islamist group, calling itself "the Brigades of Aisha", has claimed responsibility for the bombing and threatened to launch more attacks.

The targeted neighborhood is a stronghold of the Shiite movement Hezbollah, which has vowed to support President of neighboring Syria-- Bashar al-Assad.

Lebanon's Sunni Muslims mostly support the rebels in Syria while Shi'ites have largely supported Assad, who is part of the minority Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam.

The blast is the second in just over a month to hit Hezbollah's stronghold.

As the crisis in Syria shows no sign of abating, many fear it might drag Lebanon into another vicious cycle of sectarian violence.

Lebanese caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has declared Friday a day of mourning for the victims of the attack.

Meanwhile, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has strongly condemned the bombing, saying the perpetrators should be brought to justice as soon as possible.