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French Version


Bus explosions in Metn claim innocent lives

Three people were killed and at least 20 others wounded when two explosions ripped through two minibuses traveling on a highway Tuesday in the Ain Alaq town in the northern Metn province, police and Lebanese Red Cross (LRC) sources said.

The explosions come at a time tensions were running high with the Hizbullah-led Opposition holding an open-ended protest in downtown Beirut, and on the eve of the second anniversary of the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A mass rally had been planned for Wednesday in Martyrs' Square in downtown Beirut to commemorate the 2005 anniversary of Hariri's slaying.

The 9:15 a.m. blasts occurred on a road in Ain Alaq, some 20 kilometers northeast of Beirut and just south of the town of Bikfaya, the ancestral home of the Gemayel family, a prominent political Christian family in Lebanon. Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel was assassinated last November.

Television footage showed at least one bus torn apart and ambulances carrying away people. Blood was pooled in several places near the bus wreckage.

State-run National News Agency (NNA) said earlier as many as 12 people were killed.

But police sources and LRC officials said three people, including an Egyptian man , were killed and 20 others were wounded.

Many other vehicles were also damaged in the twin blasts.

A security official said the bombs, weighing two to three kilograms each, took place just minutes apart. The bomb exploded in the first bus, causing damage and casualties, and as people rushed to the scene, a second explosion ripped through a second bus that drove up behind it, the official said.

Troops and police using sniffer dogs quickly sealed off the area and blocked the highway, a usually busy road linking Christian towns in the mountains with the capital.

In the heavy rain, the buses lay some 30 meters apart, the first with its roof twisted and its backside shattered completely.

Appeals for urgent blood donations were broadcast as ambulances rushed casualties to Serhal and Bhanness hospitals in the region.

The Voice of Lebanon radio station said the targeted buses were driving people to their work.

Lebanon has been rocked by a wave of killings and attacks against prominent anti-Syrian figures since the killing of Hariri in a massive bombing on February 14, 2005.

beirut 13-02-2007
Naharnet-AP-AFP
Naharnet-AP-AFP



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