Seven killed in twin Beirut blasts

At least seven people have been killed and dozens of others injured in two explosions near the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital, Beirut.

The blasts also caused widespread damage to the mission and nearby buildings.

The cause of the explosions was not immediately clear but local reports said they were two car bombs.

A Lebanese official said the explosions killed 10 people and wounded more than 30.

Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV said 17 people were killed, while Iran’s Press TV put the death toll at 15.

“We tell those who carried out the attack, you will not be able to break us,” Hezbollah politician Ali Mikdad told Al-Mayadeen TV. “We got the message and we know who sent it and we know how to retaliate.”

Hezbollah’s Al-Rasoul al-Azam hospital called on people to donate blood, saying they need all blood types.

The main gate of the Iranian embassy was blown out and there was damage to the three-storey building. It was not known if anyone inside was hurt.

Debris was scattered across the street and cars were on fire as people ran away from the chaotic scene. The second blast was yards away from the embassy.

An armed guard at the Iranian Embassy said the first blast was believed to have been caused by a suicide attacker riding a motorcycle who blew himself up outside the gate. The other explosion, which caused much more damage, was a car bomb, the guard said.

A charred motorcycle stood outside the embassy gate in south Beirut’s upmarket Janah neighbourhood, a Hezbollah stronghold.

TV footage showed at least two bodies in the street nearby. Other wounded men covered with blood were seen across the street from the embassy.

The predominantly-Shiite south Beirut has been targeted in the past months with car bombs and rockets in what Syrian rebels say is retaliation to the militant Hezbollah group’s involvement in the battles alongside President Bashar Assad’s forces in Syria’s civil war.

Iran has been one of Assad’s strongest supporters, supplying him with money and weapons since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011.

A car bombing in a Shiite stronghold of Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut on August 15 killed 27 people and wounded more than 300. A less powerful car bomb targeted the same area on July 9, wounding more than 50.

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