Twin blasts strike hotel bar, liquor store in south Lebanon
This article was originally on a blog post platform and may be missing photos, graphics or links. See About archive blog posts.
REPORTING FROM BEIRUT -- Twin blasts targeting a liquor shop and a hotel bar said to be popular with United Nations peacekeeping soldiers rocked the southern Lebanese city of Tyre early Wednesday, reports said.
There were no casualties in the near-simultaneous blasts, which went off around 5 a.m., according to a security official cited by Agence-France Presse. Authorities suspect the attacks had to do with the sale of alcohol, consumption of which is forbidden under Islam.
The explosion ripped through the ground-floor pub at the Queen Elissa Hotel, shattered windows and damaged the interior.
A pair of U.N. vehicles parked nearby were slightly damaged, according to Andrea Tenenti, deputy spokesman for the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon, which patrols the southern border with Israel. A number of U.N. staffers were staying at the hotel at the time of explosion, he said.
U.N. peacekeepers have come under attack several times in Lebanon in recent years. In July, a roadside bomb exploded near the southern town of Sidon as a U.N. convoy carrying French peacekeepers was passing by, injuring at least five. But the spokesman said were ‘no indications’ that U.N. staffers were the target. The Lebanese army is investigating the case, he added.
Minutes after the bomb in the hotel pub, a second blast hit a liquor shop in Tyre, a Mediterranean town that is popular with tourists in summer. No casualties were reported in that incident either.
Lebanon’s Interior Minister Marwan Charbel stressed in a report carried on Lebanon’s official National News Agency that the blasts were not security-related but rather had to do with the establishments selling alcohol. (Link in Arabic)
Alcohol is easy to find in Lebanon, considered the most liberal country in the region, but liquor shops in the south have reportedly been a target of campaigns in recent times, forcing several to close. Liquor sales are generally banned in areas under the influence of Shiite militant group Hezbollah and certain conservative Sunni movements.
-- Alexandra Sandels