A suicide bomber killed four people Tuesday in a southern Beirut suburb known for its support of the Shia military and political group Hezbollah, security sources said, as violence continues to spill across the border from Syria and inflame tensions between Lebanon’s Sunni and Shia communities.
The target of the attack was not immediately clear. The bomb went off on a busy street with small shops and restaurants in the Haret Hreik area of Beirut's largely Shia southern suburbs, near an area where a similar bombing killed five people earlier this month.
Thousands of people rushed into the area after the blast, and footage broadcast by the Hezbollah-owned al-Manar television station showed a building engulfed inflames. Lebanon's official media said a suicide bomber in a vehicle was behind the attack.
Tensions from the nearly three-year-old conflict in neighboring Syria have increasingly affected Lebanon, which is still recovering from its own 1975-1990 civil war and has been without a fully functioning government since March.
Hezbollah has sent fighters and advisers across the border into Syria to help its ally President Bashar al-Assad, a member of the Shia-derived Alawite minority, in his fight against the mainly Sunni opposition. Hezbollah's Lebanon strongholds have been hit by rocket and bomb attacks claimed by hard-line Sunni fighters.
Security sources said that four people died in Tuesday's attack, and that at least 20 more were wounded. However, Lebanese Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said two people were killed and 26 were hospitalized with wounds from the bombing.
Rocket fire from Syria killed at least seven people in the border town of Arsal on Friday, a day after a suicide car bomber killed three people in the Hezbollah stronghold of Hermel on the border with Syria.
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad al-Hariri said last week he was ready to share power with Hezbollah, if that would help end the country's political deadlock.