BEIRUT: There was an air of defiance around the residents of Tayyouneh Tuesday morning as they surveyed the damage caused by an overnight suicide bombing.
“Dahiyeh will never bow,” said Ibrahim, whose eyes watered and voice faltered as he stared at the husks of blackened cars that were in flames hours earlier.
Ibrahim, who asked that his name be changed, is a resident of Tayyouneh who was watching a World Cup game at the nearby Abu Assaf café shortly before midnight when the car bomb went off, shattering the calm and jubilation of the neighborhood.
“These [bombers] do not care about your sect, they just want to destroy the country,” he said, describing how Sunni neighbors had rushed to the aid of Shiite residents in the area.
The once-bustling neighborhood was now criss-crossed with yellow tape, amid a surge of Army officers protecting the fragile calm that had taken hold in the morning. Security officers were still searching for the remains of Abdul-Karim Hodroj, the General Security officer that residents say confronted the suicide bomber just before the explosion.
Abu Assaf café had reopened, and locals streamed in for a morning coffee fix, inquiring about the health of employees there. Others sat in stunned silence at the café, just two dozen meters away from the car bomb that shattered the midnight peace.
Most of the wounded had been watching the Brazil-Cameroon match at the café but were saved by the open space on the other side of the car bomb – an open roundabout and the wide expanse of Horsh Beirut, dissipating the force of the explosion.
“Nobody remembers the moment,” said Hamza, who was working at the café when the bomb exploded.
The gruesome aftermath stood baking in the morning sun, hollowed out cars and scraps of metal littering the area, the stench of burned rubber and ash still persistent hours after the explosion. The car bomb itself had been reduced to small chunks of scrap metal, a jumbled heap that made little sense, a reflection of the confusion of local residents who were still at a loss as to why their homes, far from political offices, were targeted in the midst of World Cup passion.
Children and families, rubbing the sleep out of their eyes, gazed down at the rubble from their apartment buildings, three of them damaged in the bombing, with windows blown out and collapsed awnings and workers sweeping away the glass and debris.
A nearby poster, partially obscured by trees, summed up Lebanon’s predicament. The portrait was of a wounded and dying Hussein, the Prophet’s grandson, bleeding and pierced by arrows, extending his hand to a bloodied white steed. His tents burned in the background, in what appeared to be a commemoration of the infamous battle of Karbala.
The poster was captioned: “Is there any who will come to my aid?”