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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 March, 2005, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Bomb hits Beirut's Christian area
Flames at site of Beirut explosion
The blaze gutted a number of buildings in the area
A bomb has exploded in a mainly Christian area of the Lebanese capital, Beirut, wounding at least six people.

The blast in the city's industrial eastern suburb tore through a number of buildings, starting a blaze that destroyed several workshops.

Lebanon has been in political turmoil since the assassination of ex-PM Rafik Hariri on 14 February.

Two blasts in the past week have killed three people in areas opposed to Syria's presence in Lebanon.

Mr Hariri had called for Syrian troops to leave.

Security sources said between six and eight people were wounded in the blast, including two Indian nationals, revising earlier reports that the Indians had been killed.

The US condemned the latest attack, and said there should be improved security measures.

"We call on the Lebanese authorities to exercise their responsibility to the Lebanese people to provide for their security and to identify and bring to justice those responsible for these acts," a state department spokesman said.

Complete chaos

The blast occurred at about 2130 local time (1930 GMT) and was heard across the capital.

Paramedics carry an injured man after the blast
Injured were taken to a local hospital

The bomb appeared to have been placed between a car and one of the factories, police said.

The ensuing blaze was fuelled by the flammable material stored in many of the industrial buildings.

Complete chaos reigned for a while as police rushed to seal off the area, while firefighters struggled to put out the fire, the BBC's Kim Ghattas in Beirut says.

She says the blast caused panic in the neighbourhood and across the capital.

The wounded Indian citizens were working in the area.

Mayor Antoine Gebara said police had been tipped off about a car bomb earlier in the evening and were looking for a vehicle when the blast went off.

"It appears it is an explosive charge that was placed there," Mr Gebara told Lebanese TV station LBC.

The blast came on the eve of Easter Sunday, one of the most important dates in the Christian calendar.


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See video from the scene of the bomb blast



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