Iran attache among dozens killed in Beirut embassy blast

Lebanese men run to remove dead bodies from burned cars, at the scene where two explosions struck near the Iranian Embassy killing several, in Beirut, Lebanon on Tuesday November 19, 2013.  (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

Lebanese men run to remove dead bodies from burned cars, at the scene where two explosions struck near the Iranian Embassy killing several, in Beirut, Lebanon on Tuesday November 19, 2013. (photo credit: AP/Hussein Malla)

Explosions, likely from twin suicide bombings, cause extensive damage outside Iran mission in Lebanese capital; al-Qaeda-linked group claims responsibility

(SOURCE)   At least two explosions were reported Tuesday morning near the Iranian embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.

The Lebanese Health Ministry reported that at least 23 people were killed and 146 injured in the blast. The Iranian ambassador confirmed reports that an Iranian cultural attache was critically injured in the explosion and later died from his wounds.

 Iranian Ambassador Ghazanfar Rokn Abadi identified the dead diplomat as Sheikh Ibrahim Ansari. Speaking to Hezbollah’s Al-Manar TV from inside the embassy compound, he said Ansari took his post in Lebanon a month ago and was overseeing all regional cultural activities. Al-Manar reported that the street targeted by the suicide bombers includes a building where some of the Iranian diplomats and their families live.

“People aren’t sacred anymore. We aren’t safe,” said a mechanic whose store windows were shattered by the blasts. He declined to be identified because he did not want to be seen as involved in sectarian tensions that have split the Lebanese over Syria’s conflict.

“People fight outside (Lebanon), but send their messages through Lebanon. With bombs. It’s their SMS service,” he added.

Abadi blamed Israel, but the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a group linked to al-Qaeda, claimed responsibility for the blast, according to Reuters.

At least six buildings in the embassy compound were damaged in the blasts.

Lebanon’s state news agency said a preliminary investigation showed that the first blast was set off by a suicide bomber and the second explosion a car bomb that went off once people arrived on the scene to help.

Initial reports had indicated a rocket attack might have been behind the blasts.

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