At least 17 people were killed and hundreds wounded
Thursday when an explosion ripped through Beirut's southern suburbs,
a stronghold of the Lebanese Shiite movement Hezbollah, police and
the Lebanese Red Cross said.
"Some of the wounded are in serious condition, so we expect the toll to rise," George Kattaneh, head of the Lebanese Red Cross told dpa.
Families were still trapped in their houses, with civil defence volunteers trying to reach them, he added.
The Lebanese National News agency quoting security sources as saying that the number of wounded has risen to 212.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said the blast was caused by a car bomb, but Hezbollah sources said it might be a suicide attack, based on the fact that they had found human remains near the car.
The blast went off on a public road at rush hour, according to a witness.
About 100 cars and several buildings were damaged. Plumes of black smoke billowed over the scene.
Hospitals in Beirut's southern suburbs were calling for blood donations, while Hezbollah militants cordoned off all roads leading to the area to clear the way for ambulances.
A previously unknown group calling itself The Brigade of Aysha, the Mother of Believers, for External Missions claimed responsibility for the blast, saying it was the second such "message" for Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah and his group. Aysha is the name of one of prophet Mohammed's wives.
"We are sending you, Nasrallah the pig, our second message ... and you are still not understanding. We said to you the first time that you are not the one who defines the time and place.
"This is the second time that we define the place and the battle and it will always be in your stronghold ..." a masked man said in a video posted on YouTube, flanked by two other masked men carrying machineguns.
The man promised more such explosions and called on the Lebanese people Lebanon" to keep from all Hezbollah's strongholds.
He described Nasrallah as an agent for Iran and Israel.
The authenticity of the claim or the video could not be verified
On July 9, a booby-trapped car exploded at a parking lot in Beirut's Bir al-Abed neighbourhood, leaving 53 wounded and causing extensive damage.
Syrian opposition rebels have threatened Hezbollah with harsh retaliation for its decision to fight alongside Syrian regime forces in that country's civil war.
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