BEIRUT: Two suspected suicide bombers – one driving a rigged car and the other on a motorcycle – attacked the Iranian embassy in Beirut Tuesday, killing at least 25 people and wounding more than 150, security sources said.
The sources told The Daily Star that preliminary information indicated the first suicide bomber was on foot and the second drove a bomb-laden vehicle only a few meters away from the Iranian embassy in the predominantly Shiite neighborhood of Bir Hasan two minutes later.
Hezbollah’s Al-Manar television reported that seconds before the car bomb exploded, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle blew himself up.
The security sources said Iranian embassy cultural attaché Sheikh Ibrahim Ansari, who had recently arrived in Beirut to join the Iranian mission, and two Iranian civilians were among the dead.
Several embassy guards were also wounded in the bombings, according to the sources who spoke to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity.
Iranian Ambassador to Lebanon Ghazanfar Roknabadi confirmed Ansari's death and said the Iranian embassy was the target of the “terrorist attack.”
Roknabadi also accused Israel of being behind the explosions.
"Such acts don't affect our path," he told the Beirut-based Al-Mayadeen television channel.
A number of Lebanese officials arrived at the scene of the blast, including Hezbollah MP Ali Meqdad who said “no matter how much they try, they will fail.”
Ambulances also rushed to the scene of the explosion that sent black smoke plumes into the sky while hospitals in the area appealed for blood.
At least six bodies lay on the street leading to the embassy as firefighters extinguished flames from vehicles. Debris littered the site of the explosion.
Three buildings around the embassy were damaged as well as other buildings in the area.
“I was waiting at the traffic sign on the street parallel to the Iranian embassy when I heard a loud explosion,” said a motorist, who refused to be identified.
“I was terrified. I saw black smoke, but I decided to continue my trip to Shweifat [southeast of Beirut],” she added.
Two devastating explosions had ripped through the southern suburbs of Beirut in July and August, killing dozens of people and wounding scores more.
Hezbollah is deeply involved in the Syrian war with fighters fighting alongside forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad against rebel forces.
Hezbollah chief Sayyed Hasan Nasrallah accused Islamist Takfiri militants of being behind the car bombings that targeted the Bir al-Abed and Ruwaiss neighborhoods in the southern suburbs of Beirut.