Death toll in Lebanon bombings rises to 47
By Ryan Lucas, AP, Aug 24, 2013
BEIRUT (AP)—Heavily armed Lebanese security forces deployed across the northern city of Tripoli on Saturday as forensic experts sifted through the rubble from twin car bombs that killed at least 47 people the day before.
The coordinated explosions Friday outside two mosques in the predominantly Sunni city raised even more the already simmering sectarian tensions in fragile Lebanon, heightening fears the country could be slipping into a cycle of revenge attacks between its Sunni and Shiite communities. For many Lebanese, the bombings also were seen as the latest evidence that Syria’s bloody civil war—with its dark sectarian overtones—is increasingly drawing in its smaller neighbor.
Lebanese police officials on Saturday raised the casualty toll from the bombings to 47 people killed and more than 500 wounded. Some 300 people were still in the hospital a day after the attack, 65 of them in critical condition, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.
The explosions were clearly intended to cause maximum civilian casualties as they struck at midday Friday outside the Taqwa and Salam mosques, which are known to be filled with worshippers at that time on the Muslim day of prayer.
While there has been no claim of responsibility for the attacks, many here link them to the civil war next door in Syria, where a Sunni-led insurgency is fighting to oust a regime dominated by President Bashar Assad’s Alawite sect, an offshoot of Shiite Islam.
Hezbollah’s overt role in the Syrian civil war has sent sectarian tensions soaring in Lebanon, and street clashes have erupted on numerous occasions in recent months. Preachers at both of the mosques targeted Friday are virulent critics of both Hezbollah and Assad.