A car bomb blew up outside a Syrian army barracks Friday in Muslim West Beirut, killing three people and wounding 32 in the latest in a wave of attacks against Syrian military installations in Lebanon, police said.
Police said a car packed with 110 pounds of explosives and flammable liquid exploded about 25 yards from a Syrian roadblock and adjacent to a Syrian barracks.
Two Syrian soldiers were among the three people killed in the blast and another 32 were wounded, the latest in a series of attacks widely viewed as being aimed at the Syrian military presence and Damascus’ political role in war-torn Lebanon.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack, which occurred against a backdrop of increasing tension between Muslims and Christians supporting two rival governments.
15 Cars Destroyed
The explosion occurred in a popular residential quarter adjacent to a vegetable market usually crowded with shoppers. Afterward, the area was littered with the twisted and charred remains of 15 cars and shattered glass from nearby buildings.
Panic-stricken Syrian troops fired volleys of bullets into the air and sealed off the area to prevent people from approaching the scene of the explosion.
The bombing was the second in less than a month to target Syrian troops. On Sept. 28, a car bomb exploded at a Syrian checkpoint south of Beirut, killing three soldiers, including an officer.
Christian militiamen repeatedly have vowed to wage war against what they describe as the “Syrian occupation” of Lebanese territory.
U.S. Ambassador Accused
On the political front, Lebanon’s Christian leaders Friday accused the new U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, John McCarthy, of interfering in the country’s affairs and treating it as an American state.
Since his Sept. 24 appointment, McCarthy has been meeting almost daily with feuding Christian and Muslim leaders pressing to settle a crisis that has left the country without a president.
Parliament failed to agree on a successor to President Amin Gemayel’s before his six-year term expired Sept. 22. Since then, rival Christian and Muslim cabinets have claimed to govern Lebanon.
“My government is trying to make a positive contribution in what must be the most complex and confused period of time in the history of Lebanon,” McCarthy responded.
“I regret very much if I have offended any one. That was never my intention,” he said.