Turkey strongly condemns Beirut bombing

Turkey strongly condemns Beirut bombing
# 16 August 2013 05:00 (UTC +04:00)

Baku-APA. Turkey has strongly condemned bombing in a crowded southern Beirut neighborhood that is a stronghold of the military group Hezbollah, killing at least 20 people, APA reports quoting Todays Zaman.

A powerful car bomb ripped through the southern Beirut neighborhood killing at least 20 people and trapping dozens of others in burning cars and buildings in the latest apparent violence linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria.

A statement Turkish Foreign Ministry released on Thursday strongly condemned the attack and described it as a “terrorist act”, extending condolences to the Lebanese people.

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.

Turkey called on Lebanese authorities to immediately find the perpetrators of the attack and bring them before justice.

The explosion occurred on a bustling commercial and residential street in the Rweiss district, a heavily Shiite area and one of Hezbollah's bastions of support. Last month, a car bomb exploded in the nearby Beir al-Abed district, wounding more than 50 people.

It was the worst explosion in south Beirut since a 1985 truck bomb assassination attempt targeting top Shiite cleric Mohammed Hussein Fadlallah. That blast in Beir al-Abed left 80 people dead.

Ankara recalled that the region is going through a sensitive period and said it believes the Lebanese people will act with restraint and common sense in the face of the attack that targeted Lebanon’s security and stability.

Turkey, the statement added, will continue its support to Lebanon in solidarity with the Lebanese people.

Sunni-Shiite tensions have risen sharply in Lebanon, particularly since Hezbollah raised its profile by openly fighting alongside Assad's forces. Lebanese Sunnis support the rebels fighting to topple Assad, a member of a Shiite offshoot sect.

Syria-based opposition fighters and militant radical groups have threatened to target Hezbollah strongholds in Lebanon in retaliation for its increasingly overt role in Syria. The group's fighters played a key role in a recent regime victory in the town of Qusair near the Lebanese border, and Syrian activists say they are now aiding a regime offensive in the besieged city of Homs.