Eastern Beirut has been shaken by a car bomb in the heart of its mainly Christian community.
At least eight people were killed died and around 80 were injured.
Among the victims was Wissam al-Hassan, who was in charge of a top intelligence unit, according to Lebanon’s al-Jadeed television. He had led an investigation that uncovered a recent bomb plot that led to the arrest of a pro-Syrian Lebanese politician.
The blast sent rubble and broken glass flying through the chic shops and smart cafes lining the Sassine Square, where Beirut’s Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter, go shopping, and have fun. It is a highly symbolic location, and the historical crucible for many demonstrations of Christian power in the city.
“All the houses were falling down. God protected me and kept me alive. There is nothing now, no ceiling, no windows or doors. Everything is destroyed,” said one elderly woman.
Dazed people fit enough to walk were helped from the scene as ambulances rushed to cope with the casualties.