Suicide Bomb Attack Kills 23 in Beirut
Two suicide bombers crashed a car loaded with explosives into a seaside Lebanese army position in West Beirut on Friday, killing 23 people and wounding 36 , the state radio said.
The explosion rocked Beirut shortly after nightfall and left shattered bodies along the boulevard a few hundred yards from Beirut’s most luxurious hotel complex.
The army’s mainly Shia Muslim 6th Brigade, which controls West Beirut, issued radio appeals for “urgent blood donations and for all doctors to report immediately to duty at hospitals to save the lives of victims.”
State radio said 23 people, including three soldiers, were killed. Six soldiers were among the wounded.
2 Young Men Seen in Car
Soldiers told reporters that two young, bearded men were riding in the car when the automobile, a white BMW, exploded.
Militiamen and soldiers ringed the Jenah neighborhood and some fired into the air to keep pedestrians away and facilitate the evacuation of victims.
The windows of the Summerland Hotel and other nearby buildings were shattered and several cars were burning in the middle of the boulevard.
Witnesses said at least eight cars were lined up at a checkpoint outside the army position when the attackers sped past a sandbagged guard post and detonated the explosives inside the fenced camp.
It was the first major explosion in Beirut since a car bomb in Christian East Beirut’s Sin El-Fil neighborhood last May 22 killed 58 people and injured about 200.
Camp Battles Continue
The suicide attack came as the battles for Palestinian refugee camps continued.
Palestinian spokesmen claimed guerrillas fought off two Shia assaults against two refugee camps, and Christian and Muslim militias fought separate battles across Beirut’s dividing Green Line.
Police said 13 people were killed and 88 wounded in those clashes.
The Palestinian spokesmen reported by telephone from the besieged Chatilla and Borj el Brajne camps. They said scores of Shia militiamen of the Amal movement and Lebanese soldiers of the 6th Brigade tried to break through guerrilla defenses into the two shantytowns at daybreak.
Army M-48 tanks and truck-mounted mortars pounded the camps, providing cover for the ground forces, the spokesmen said.
Appeals for Intervention
They renewed appeals for “all humanitarian organizations” to intervene and press for the evacuation of scores of dead and wounded lying untended in the alleys of the camps and inside ill-equipped hospitals and mosques.
Police said five people were killed and 12 wounded in clashes around Chatilla and Borj el Brajne, which are about 1 1/2 miles apart.
That raised the known casualty toll in the 26-day-old war over the camps to 565 killed and 2,301 wounded. The police figures do not include victims still trapped in the camps.
International Red Cross officials said Amal militiamen were blocking medical convoys from entering the camps.
Aimed at Palestinians
The Shia troops and irregulars seek to uproot the Palestinian guerrillas from the camps and prevent them from rebuilding the power base lost when Israel invaded Lebanon in June, 1982.
The Green Line hostilities spilled over Friday into several residential suburbs deep inside both East and West Beirut.
Two mortar rounds slammed into a crowded vegetable market in West Beirut’s Basta neighborhood at 8:20 a.m., killing five people and wounding 50, police said.
Reporters at the American University Hospital in the Muslim sector of the city said the emergency ward was so crowded with casualties that doctors were operating in the corridors.
One man was killed and 11 were wounded when other artillery rounds struck Christian areas of the city about the same time. Three combatants also were killed and 15 wounded along the three-mile demarcation line, police said.