TYRE, Lebanon: Five people were slightly wounded in a bomb explosion outside a restaurant in the southern city of Tyre overnight, security sources said Monday.
They said the blast, which went off shortly after midnight, targeted Nocean Restaurant, located on the third floor of a three-story commercial building on the eastern outskirts of the city.
The wounded were employees closing the restaurant for the night when the explosion occurred. They were treated at local hospitals and discharged, the sources added.
The building in which Nocean is located also houses businesses and other restaurants, including a McDonald's branch.
Nocean serves alcohol, but security services have yet to determine whether that was the motive for the attack. Nevertheless, the proprietor is convinced that the sale of alcohol is what triggered the bombing.
“The explosion is 100 percent linked to the sale of alcohol since none of the other restaurants in the building serves alcohol,” Zahi Zaidan told The Daily Star.
A recent spate of bombings has targeted establishments selling alcohol in predominantly Muslim Tyre and its environs. Islam prohibits the consumption of alcohol by Muslims.
While Zaidan acknowledged that the explosion caused extensive material damage to the restaurant, he thanked God there were no victims.
“Since the soul is more precious than alcohol I will stop serving alcohol after I repair the restaurant,” Zaidan stated.
The sources, who spoke to The Daily Star on condition of anonymity, said the bomb was placed on the uppermost steps of the staircase leading to the restaurant.
Chairs and tables were blown into the street by the force of the explosion. Several car windows were shattered and one vehicle was damaged by debris.
A few walls inside the building also collapsed.
Pictures of local singers who sang at the Nocean Saturday night were found amid the rubble.
Security forces cordoned off the area pending the collection of crime scene evidence.
A sit-in will take place at 5 p.m. at the bomb site to protest repeated explosions in the city, demand that the government uncover the perpetrators and preserve overall security in Tyre. The event is being organized by the Union of Democratic Lebanese Youth in the south.
In a statement released hours after the incident, the union said that its protest also aimed at "standing in the face of those who believe they can threaten people with their [nefarious] actions."