A powerful bomb blast tore through a residential and commercial area of a predominantly Shi'a neighborhood in Southern Beirut during rush hour on Thursday, killing at least four people and wounding over 70 as sectarian and political warfare threaten the country of four million.
The blast took place in the Haret Hreik district of the suburb Dahiyeh — a majority Shi'a neighborhood. The explosion destroyed multiple cars and left wreckage strewn throughout the street, releasing a thick plume of smoke, according to multiple media reports.
"Suddenly, the whole area went bright and we started running away," Ali Oleik, an accountant who works in a nearby office building, told The Associated Press. "I saw two bodies on the street, one of a woman and another of a man on a motorcycle who was totally deformed."
The bombing comes less than a week after an explosion in downtown Beirut killed prominent Sunni politician Mohammed Chatah and at least five other people. Thursday's bombing was the fifth such attack on Shi'a civilians in Lebanon in the past six months. Deadly attacks on Sunni civilians have also shaken Lebanon, including two blasts outside of Sunni mosques in August that killed more than 40 people.
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Initial reporting from major U.S. media outlets, including The New York Times (which later changed its headline) described the bombing as an attack on a Hizbullah "neighborhood."
Yet, Lebanese writer and activist Rami El-Amine told Common Dreams, "There's no such thing as a Hizbullah neighborhood. You can't target Hizbullah this way. They don't exist above ground. This was a sectarian attack targeting Shi'a. It is just like any other attack targeting innocent civilians."
"It's incredible that they [The New York Times] can dehumanize even an event so incapable of being dehumanized— the killing of innocents," he said.