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Blasts rock Hezbollah stronghold near Beirut

Three bombs explode under a car south of Beirut, killing one person and wounding several others in an attack that may have targeted a Hamas official, Lebanon's state-run news agency says.
/ Source: The Associated Press

Three bombs planted under a car exploded south of Beirut on Saturday, killing one person and wounding several others in an attack that apparently targeted an official from the Palestinian militant group Hamas, the state-run news agency said.

The official National News Agency said the explosion was caused by "three bombs tied to each other" that were placed under the car of an official believed to be from Hamas.

It did not identify the targeted official or the victims. One of the wounded was in serious condition, the report said.

Lebanese security officials said they could not independently confirm what caused the blasts or who the explosions targeted. The Lebanese militant group Hezbollah, which controls the area, sealed off the streets in the southern suburb of Haret Hreik and prevented journalists from getting close to the scene.

One senior police official said the blast occurred in a neighborhood that houses an office belonging to Hamas.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media.

Hezbollah's Al-Manar TV only briefly mentioned the blast Saturday, quoting Lebanese security officials as saying "an explosion in Haret Hreik targeted an office belonging to Hamas, causing a number of casualties." The broadcast offered did not elaborate, and a Hezbollah official contacted by The Associated Press said he had no information.

Osama Hamdan, the Hamas representative in Lebanon, was not available for comment Saturday and had no information, according to a person who answered his mobile phone. Other Hamas officials in Beirut and neighboring Syria, which shelters the exiled leadership of Hamas, did not answer repeated calls.

The explosion came on the eve of Ashoura, Shiite Islam's most important religious holiday.

Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah is expected to address tens of thousands of supporters commemorating the Ashoura holiday by video link on Sunday.

The explosion Saturday night occurred about 2,300 feet from a complex where hundreds of Shiite Hezbollah supporters were holding a ceremony commemorating Ashoura and listening to a live televised speech by Nasrallah.

Ashoura marks the death of Imam Hussein, the Prophet Muhammad's grandson, who died in a battle in 680 against the leader of what became the Sunni branch of Islam. The battle took place in the Iraqi city of Karbala.