Twin bomb blasts rock Beirut suburb, 2 dead

BEIRUT (AFP) - Twin bomb blasts rocked a southern suburb of the Lebanese capital Beirut on Wednesday, killing at least two people and injuring dozens, a security source told AFP.

The attacks appeared to target the Iranian cultural centre, and an AFP photographer at the scene said the blasts had occurred beyond a security checkpoint at the centre, close to the building.

The security source said at least two people had been killed in the double bombing, but could not confirm if the attacks were car or suicide bombings.

Lebanon's National News Agency, citing the Red Cross, confirmed the toll and said 38 others were injured in the attack.

The explosions sent a large plume of smoke over the area and Lebanese television showed scenes of widespread destruction.

Emergency teams carried wounded people away from a charred street strewn with rubble, as local residents armed with fire extinguishers helped firefighters put out blazes.

The arms of a wounded man hung limply off the sides of a yellow stretcher as he was carried from the scene.

The security official confirmed that the bombs had exploded near the Iranian cultural centre, in the Bir Hassan district of the capital.

Bir Hassan is surrounded by neighbourhoods that are strongholds of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah and have been targeted in multiple bomb attacks killing civilians.

Lebanon has been rocked by a string of car and suicide bomb attacks in recent months, many targeting strongholds of the Hezbollah movement in apparent retribution for its role in Syria.

The group has admitted sending fighters to the neighbouring country to battle alongside Syria's President Bashar al-Assad against an uprising.

Iran's official news agency IRNA too reported that the blast took place near an Iranian cultural centre as well as close to the Beirut offices of IRNA and Iranian television IRIB.

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