Hussein Malla / AP
Lebanese citizens and Hezbollah supporters gather at the scene of a car bomb explosion in southern Beirut, Lebanon, on Thursday.
A powerful car bomb rocked a southern Beirut suburb Thursday, killing at least 18 people near a complex used by Lebanon's militant group, Hezbollah, witnesses and officials said.
The blast also damaged five surrounding buildings and other cars.
Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said hospitals across the capital admitted a total of 16 bodies and 226 wounded people, according to Reuters.
The explosion, in the Shi-ite Muslim-dominated district of Rouweis, created sent a column of black smoke that could be seen over the Lebanese city.
The Associated Press reported local media saying some residents were trapped inside buildings at the scene, which is close to a complex where Hezbollah leader Sayyed HassanNasrallah often addresses his followers.
Sectarian tensions have been high in Lebanon following the intervention of Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah in support of Syria’s president Bashar Assad against a two-year revolt led by Syria's Sunni Muslim majority.
Hezbollah also fought a month-long war with Israel in 2006.
NBC News' Ghazi Balkiz contributed to this report.
First published August 15 2013, 2:53 PM