BEIRUT: A suicide bomber detonated his explosives belt on board a passenger van south of Beirut Monday killing himself and wounding at least two people, security sources said.
The bomber detonated his explosives belt after boarding the van on a road near Choueifat, a key town that leads to the pro-Hezbollah southern suburbs of Beirut, the sources said.
The number of casualties was limited, they said, noting the estimated weight of the explosives used in the operation, ranging between 2 and 3 kilograms, and that the van had been vacant of passengers.
Two people were wounded including the driver who was in critical condition, the sources said.
The bomber’s head was severed in the explosion and was found in the debris that littered the road near a local gasoline station.
Recalling the moments before the attack, Hussein Deeb Msheik, the driver, told police a man who seemed to be “unusually” bloated entered his van just before the blast.
“I asked: Why are you so bloated?” Msheik said. “Two minutes later there was an explosion.”
The sources said the van had not been the original target. The bomber had apparently tried to board a taxi in the area just minutes before the incident.
“When I saw the man was armed I refused to let him in the car and I sped off,” the taxi driver, who refused to be identified, told police.
“But I saw him get into a passenger van in my side mirror and moments later I saw the explosion,” the driver added.
The bombing comes only two days after a suicide bomber detonated an explosives-rigged vehicle at a gas station in the northeastern city of Hermel that killed three people and wounded 23 others.
Lebanon has seen a spate of bombings targeting areas where Hezbollah enjoys wide support including the southern suburbs of Beirut and the northeastern city of Hermel.
Al-Qaeda-linked groups have claimed responsibility for the bombings, warning of further attacks unless Hezbollah ends its military campaign in neighboring Syria.