BEIRUT — A powerful car bomb ripped through a crowded southern Beirut neighborhood that is a stronghold of the militant group Hezbollah on Thursday, killing at least 14 people and trapping dozens of others in burning cars and buildings in the latest apparent violence linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria, officials said.
Groups opposed to Syria's President Bashar Assad have threatened to retaliate against Hezbollah for intervening on behalf of his regime in the conflict. The blast raises the worrying specter of Lebanon being pulled further into the Syrian civil war, which is taking on an increasingly sectarian tone.
It was the second such explosion in just over a month in south Beirut, an overwhelmingly Shiite area tightly controlled by Hezbollah, and the deadliest attack in decades against the neighborhoods that are considered key bastions of support for the group. The blast appeared to be an attempt to sow fear among the group's civilian supporters and did not target any known Hezbollah facility or personality.
Lebanese TV showed raging fires and thick black smoke from the blast, which set ablaze several cars and buildings. Dozens of ambulances rushed to the scene of the explosion and fire fighters were seen using ladders trying to evacuate residents from burning buildings.
The state-run National News Agency said at least 14 died and 212 were wounded.
The army, in a statement, said the explosion was caused by a car blast. It called on residents to cooperate with security forces trying to evacuated people trapped in their homes.
Read more in Friday's Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.