Just a week after a deadly car bombing in west Beirut killed Lebanese former Finance Minister Mohammed Chatah, an openly vehement critic of Hezbollah, another blast rocked the Lebanese capital on Thursday, this time in the Hezbollah stronghold of Dahiya in southern Beirut.
According to reports, at least seven people were killed and dozens injured when a car bomb exploded near residential apartment buildings in the Haret Hreik suburb, which is home to Hezbollah's political headquarters.
Arab media outlets have reported that the bomb exploded near the home of Sheikh Naim Qassem, deputy head of Hezbollah, and it remains to be seen whether he was the target of the blast. According to Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV, senior sources in the Shiite group denied that any of its leaders had been seriously injured by the blast, whereas other local news outlets reported that Hezbollah's politburo had been targeted and at least one leader of the group had been hit.
Media coverage of the explosions showed strewn bodies on the street, bleeding victims crying out for help, massive wreckage and destruction. Fearing additional bombs, Lebanese policemen fired into the air to prevent crowds from approaching the blast site.
Opposition media outlets reported that Hezbollah had sealed off the area, blocking the Lebanese military from entering the scene of the bombing. Hezbollah pointed a long finger at Syrian rebel groups, blaming them for conspiring with Israel to strike the organization.
A senior Hezbollah source told Al-Manar: "Traitorous Islamic groups are cooperating with the Zionist enemy to harm Hezbollah and create instability in Lebanon as they did in Syria."
In Damascus, the Syrian government condemned Thursday's attack. Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoabi said, "We oppose murderous terrorism. The war on terrorism is the obligation of every country in the world and we must punish those who commit terrorist acts."