BEIRUT: The two suicide bombers approached a roundabout that lay across from the building housing the Iranian Cultural Center and the Gondoline pastry shop.
One drove toward the center, only to be approached by Army officer Mohammad Dandash, who grew suspicious at the car’s behavior, officers and witnesses said.
One perhaps intended to drive around the block and detonate his vehicle after his partner had blown up his own car.
But as the officer approached the first car, the suicide bomber detonated his explosives. Almost immediately, the second car exploded, a few meters away from the roundabout.
Security sources confirmed that Dandash – who was killed on the spot – prevented the rigged car from making its way to the Iranian Cultural Center.
An image released by the Internal Security Forces shows plumes of smoke released in the two bombings, both at roughly the same height in the sky, another indication that the explosions were almost simultaneous.
Witnesses at the scene either said they only heard one explosion or two explosions in very quick succession.
The Abdullah Azzam Brigades, which claimed responsibility for the attack, said the target was the Iranian Cultural Center.
It is unclear why the second suicide bomber’s car was detonated at almost the same time as the first one, at a relatively large distance from the Iranian center.
But that fact appeared to limit some of the damage that could have been wrought had the second bomber been able to detonate his explosives amid the crowd.
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on February 20, 2014, on page 3.