The Lebanese government and Hezbollah have both condemned a car bomb which targeted a US embassy motorcade in Beirut. The powerful explosion shook the mainly Christian Doura area and sent a thick plume of black smoke over the city. At least three bystanders were killed and 16 injured.
Communications minister Marwan Hmadeh, who escaped a car bomb in 2004 which killed his driver, condemned the attack but but did not name any suspects:
“Those who have made the country without a president of the republic are now trying to deprive Lebanon and Beirut itself from diplomatic representation by targeting diplomats.”
Hmadeh’s words were echoed by Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah, who also denounced the attack.
Television footage from the scene showed damaged cars and blood stains on the street, where there’s a mix of commercial and residential buildings.
The attack comes at a time of political crisis in Lebanon with rival pro-Syrian and pro-Western parties deadlocked over efforts to elect a president.
It also coincides with President George W. Bush’s extensive tour of the Middle East.