By BosNewsLife Middle East Service
BEIRUT, LEBANON (BosNewsLife)– A car bomb rocked a Christian area of the Lebanese capital Beirut Friday, October 19, killing at least eight people, including a top Lebanese security official, and reviving memories of the long civil war that once ruined this city.
The bomb, which also injured some 80 people, exploded near the office of the Christian Phalange Party, which openly disapproves of the government of the president of neighboring Syria, Bashar al-Assad.
Lebanse media said security official Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan was among those killed in Beirut’s most serious bombings in years.
Security forces and rescue workers were seen trying to find survivors between the ruined buildings, upended cars and shattered windows for blocks.
Friday’s blast added to fears that Syria’s war further spills into Lebanon, which cares for thousands of Syrian refugees, many of them Christians.
The country already saw previous violence related to the Syrian conflict.
The blast sent rubble and broken glass flying through the chic shops and smart cafes lining the Sassine Square of Eastern Beirut, where local Christians celebrate Christmas and Easter, go shopping, and have fun, witnesses said.
“All the houses were falling down. God protected me and kept me alive. There is nothing now, no ceiling, no windows or doors. Everything is destroyed,” said one
elderly woman in comments aired by Euronews television.
Dazed people fit enough to walk were seen being helped from the scene as ambulances rushed to cope with the casualties.
In a statement monitored by BosNewsLife, a Voice of America network reporter on the scene said he spoke with several people who saw or heard the blast.
“Another person was about a block away and they said at first they thought it was an earthquake,” Reporter Jeff Neumann, said.
“You know all the windows were blasted out. This is at a pharmacy across the street. I saw at least eight completely destroyed cars. There was concrete in the street, broken glass everywhere. Electrical wires were strewn across the street, and it was total chaos.”
Lebanese hospitals said they needed blood donors to help treat the wounded.Several feet from the blast, a construction site for one of Beirut’s new luxury residential towers was converted into a makeshift Red Cross field hospital, witnesses said.
Friday’s attack was among the bloodiest since former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri was killed by a truck bomb attack on his convoy in Beirut in 2005.
A BosNewsLife reporter who was in Beirut during the civil war recalled however the resilience of evangelical Christians in Eastern Beirut saying they “keep trusting in the Lord” even if if means hiding behind sandbags in their home. (With additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos).