Saturday, August 24, 2013

Twin blasts rock city in north Lebanon

Photo by Justin Salhani
By Justin Salhani
TRIPOLI, Lebanon – Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli was rocked Friday by devastating twin car bombs that left at least 29 dead and more than 300 wounded in a coordinated attack that appears to be connected to the war in Syria on neighboring Lebanon.

The bombs were detonated outside crowded mosques ran by sheikhs known for delivering fiery sermons against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and his regime.

Lebanon rests on tenuous geopolitical fault lines with Israel to the south and Syria bordering the north and east. Tripoli, a bastion for Sunni Muslims in Lebanon, is 10 miles from the Syrian border and overwhelmingly sympathetic with the Syrian opposition. In certain parts of Tripoli, armed men roam the streets in a show of power without interference from local security forces. Political cover or support from portions of the local population protects the armed groups, some of which are Salafist.

On Friday, the first explosion took place outside Taqwa mosque, located on the outskirts of the troubled Bab al-Tabbaneh neighborhood, turning nearby parked cars into heaps of twisted scrap metal and shattering the glass of surrounding buildings. The street flooded with water where the blast left a crater, as somber faces looked on at charred trees and the other destruction encompassing the mosque.

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