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Explosion rocks Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut

Men try to extinguish fire from burning cars at the site of an explosion in Beirut's southern suburbs on July 9, 2013. Issam Kobeisy / Reuters
Smoke rises from the site of an explosion in Beirut on July 9, 2013. Issam Kobeisy / Reuters

A car bomb rocked a stronghold of the Shiite militant Hezbollah group south of the Lebanese capital Tuesday, wounding at least 53 people and setting several cars ablaze, officials said.

The powerful blast struck a bustling commercial and residential neighborhood as many Lebanese Shiite Muslims began observing the holy month of Ramadan.

It was the worst explosion to hit Beirut's southern suburbs in years.

While there was no immediate claim of responsibility, there have been growing fears in Lebanon that Hezbollah could face retaliation for its now overt role fighting alongside President Bashar Assad's troops inside Syria.

The bombing is also likely to inflame already simmering tensions in Lebanon itself, where deadly clashes between Shiites and Sunnis have grown increasingly common as the civil war in Syria has taken on greater sectarian overtones.

Some Sunnis in Lebanon, many of whom support Syria's rebels, have expressed growing resentment over what they see as Hezbollah's unchecked power in the country. Read the full story.

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Civil Defence members and residents gather at the site of an explosion in Beirut on July 9, 2013. Issam Kobeisy / Reuters
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