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Beirut Bomb Kills 8, Injures Dozens

Renews Concerns About Sectarian Violence Amid Syrian War

Common Dreams staff

Lebanese Red Cross personnel are seen at the site of an explosion Friday afternoon in central Beirut. A huge car bomb exploded in a street during rush hour, killing at least eight people and wounding about 80, witnesses and officials said. (Photo: Reuters/ Sharif Karim.)

At least eight people were killed Friday afternoon and dozens more injured when a large bomb exploded in Sassine Square, a mostly Christian neighborhood in Beirut.

It was unclear who the target of the blast was, according to Reuters. No one immediately claimed responsibility.

The explosion renewed concerns about sectarian conflict among Lebanon's Sunni, Shi'ite and Christian communities, as the war in neighboring Syria escalates, Al Jazeera's Rula Amin reported from the scene of the bombing.

In February, fighting broke out in the northern city of Tripoli between supporters and opponents of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad.

Friday's blast—likely triggered by a car bomb or device hidden in the street or beneath a vehicle— was the worst in years, officials told The Independent.

An employee of a bank on the street told Reuters, "I think it was a car bomb. The whole car jumped five floors into the air."

Leaders of the anti-Damascus Christian Plalange Party and the Syrian government in Damascus condemned the attack.

Hospitals appealed for blood donations following the blast.

Also on Friday, Beirut-based Al Ahkbar reported that Lebanese Security Forces general Wissam al-Hassan, head of the controversial information branch, was one of two people killed in a separate roadside explosion in central Beirut.

According to Reuters, al-Hassan led the investigation that implicated Syria and Hezbollah in the killing of former prime minister Rafik al-Haririd.

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