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French Version

Latest blast targets Broumanna (Daily Star)

Fourth bomb in less than two weeks targets shopping center in Christian resort town east of Beirut

At least seven people were reported wounded in the latest blast to hit a Christian area east of Beirut in 12 days.

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The blast detonated in the underground car park of Broumanna's Rizk shopping center at 9:45 p.m., hitting yet another of Lebanon's commercial centers. A dozen cars were destroyed as the explosion ripped through the surrounding area, shattering windows and setting several cars on fire, reducing them to blackened hulks of twisted metal.

"What do they want with us? Why don't they leave us alone? We just want to live in security," said Marie Aswan, who lives in an apartment across the road from the shopping complex.

The bomb, the fourth in less than two weeks, has severely damaged Rizk Plaza, causing fires to rage in the clothing stores and furnished apartments above.

People were being evacuated through windows and from balconies, as heavy rain fell to smother the fire, leaving behind a thick cloud of black smoke.

In the hours that followed, the blast was judged to be the least damaging of the recent explosions. But the incident indicates a shift in modus operandi, as Broumanna is the first residential area to be targeted.

Broumanna is known to be a popular destination for Gulf Arabs who vacation here all year round.

The bomb was planted in a car in the center's underground parking lot, a few meters away from an Internal Security Forces' patrol.

Residents reported hearing the explosion, followed by the wailing of ambulances rushing to the bomb site.

Leading opposition member Walid Jumblatt immediately accused the Lebanese security services of being behind the explosion.

In a live interview with the Arab satellite station Al-Jazeera, Jumblatt said: "They know that their days are numbered, therefore they are trying to terrorize the people, but the people will not surrender, they will not bow."

Several politicians arrived at the scene almost immediately, including former President Amin Gemayel, his son Metn MP Pierre Gemayel and head of the National Bloc Carlos Edde.

Edde said: "This is an attempt to jeopardize the elections and annul them completely."

Pierre Gemayel said: "These explosions are a political message."

He added: "But the perpetrators have to understand that they are not targeting any particular group of people, like the opposition or its supporters. They are targeting all Lebanese.

"They are targeting the country's unity, beginning with Chouf MP Marwan Hamade's attempted assassination to [former premier Rafik] Hariri's assassination on February 14 and now they are targeting the unity which emerged from it."

"Let these officials take responsibility rather than accuse people and plant doubts in the people's minds."

Four of the wounded, which were reported to be seven by the time The Daily Star went to press, were transported to Bhaness Hospital in the North to be treated.

This latest blast has reinforced the question most prominent in people's minds: Are the perpetrators going to change their tactics and start targeting people, resulting in greater numbers of human losses?

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Beirut 03-04-2005
Mayssam Zaaroura
The Daily Star

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