BEIRUT (AP) — Two explosions struck Tuesday near the Iranian Embassy in the Lebanese capital of Beirut, killing at least 10 people, wounding scores and causing wide damage to the mission and nearby buildings.
The mid-morning blasts hit Beirut's upscale neighborhood of Janah, a Hezbollah stronghold. One explosion blew out the large black main gate of the Iranian mission, damaging the three-story facility. It was not known if anyone inside was hurt.
Debris was scattered on the street and cars were on fire as people ran away from the chaotic scene. The second blast was meters (yards) away from the embassy building.
The explosions killed 10 and wounded more than 30, said a Lebanese security official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. An Associated Press photographer counted at least five bodies after the blasts in south Beirut.
AP video showed firefighters extinguishing flames from vehicles, blood-spattered streets and bodies covered with sheets on the ground. A charred motorcycle stood outside the embassy gate.
It was not immediately clear what had caused the blasts, and reports varied. Lebanon's state-run National News Agency said one of the blasts was carried out by a suicide attacker on foot while the second was a car bomb.
An armed guard of the Iranian embassy told AP that the first blast was believed to have been carried out by a suicide attacker who rode a motorcycle and blew himself up outside the gate. The other explosion, which caused much more damage, was a car bomb, the guard said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to media.
Heazbollah's Al-Manar TV said 17 people were killed while Iran's Press TV put the death toll at 15.
There have been several attacks the past few months, including with rockets and car bombs, against Shiite strongholds in Lebanon in what Syrian rebels say is retaliation for the militant Hezbollah group's open involvement on the side of President Bashar Assad's forces in the civil war in neighboring Syria.
"We tell those who carried out the attack, you will not be able to break us," Hezbollah lawmaker Ali Mikdad told Al-Mayadeen TV. "We got the message and we know who sent it and we know how to retaliate."
Hezbollah's Al-Rasoul al-Azam hospital called on people to donate blood, saying they need all blood types.
Iran has been one of Assad's strongest supporters, supplying him with money and weapons since the Syrian crisis began in March 2011.
An Aug. 15 car bombing in a Shiite stronghold of Hezbollah in the southern suburbs of Beirut killed 27 people and wounded more than 300. A less powerful car bomb targeted the same area on July 9, wounding more than 50.