Lebanon

Bomb Hits Achrafieh — Updates & Commentary

A car bomb has exploded in Sassine Square, in the Beirut neighborhood of Achrafieh. I will be posting updates to this page as they become available. Comments, especially from QN readers based in Beirut, are welcomed below.

In the meantime, check out the following resources:

CNN’s live blog of the blast

AlJazeera’s live blog

Twitter feed on Lebanon

**

4:05PM (GMT+2): Nadim Gemayel is on MTV now talking about the location of the blast being a few hundred meters away from the Kataeb office in Achrafieh. Gemayel is not in Lebanon right now.

Media reports that there are over 70 wounded and 8 dead.

Security sources say that this was one of the largest explosions in Lebanese history.

Hospitals are calling for blood donations. If you are near Hotel Dieu or Rizk Hospital, please consider donating blood.

All media outlets now confirming that Wissam al-Hassan (director of the Information Branch of the Internal Security Forces) has been killed.

Discussion

41 thoughts on “Bomb Hits Achrafieh — Updates & Commentary

  1. كلُّنا في الهمِّ شرقُ

    Posted by 3issa | October 19, 2012, 9:05 am
  2. Heard the explosion from down in Gemmayzeh, rocked the whole district. Don’t know how large the explosion was but it certainly got under the bones. Pictures looking horrific. Colleague’s wife was picking up kids from kindergarten nearby and saw buildings collapse. Everyone extremely tense. The fact that this is not a political target, if that turns out to be the case, is more worrying. This is not targeted, everyone is a potential risk. Sowing sectarian discord, trying to stoke the flames. Wasn’t that what Samaha was bring brought in for… perhaps this is a neat bookend to your last posting.

    Posted by The Medlar | October 19, 2012, 9:07 am
  3. Here we go again…I was hoping that these “messages” were forever gone!

    Posted by danny | October 19, 2012, 9:11 am
  4. “Local residents told Al-Akhbar they heard a large explosion at 3 pm, followed by a smaller explosion roughly three minutes later.

    “I’m a strong woman, but I just can’t take this anymore,” said a distraught local resident named Lody Rouhana who was sitting at a nearby shoe store when the explosion went off.

    Rouhana and her son said they sat in total silence after hearing the apparent car bombs. “We thought we were dead,” said Rouhana’s son who declined to give his first name. “

    Posted by mj | October 19, 2012, 10:24 am
  5. Very strange. I passed by Sassine square yesterday evening and noticed that the army was gone. They used to infest the square.

    Just walked about the neighborhood,which is less than a kilometer from ground zero. Shops are closed. Construction sites are still at it full swing.

    Posted by JY | October 19, 2012, 10:40 am
  6. Has it been confirmed that there were 2 explosions? Saw tweet that MTV claimed small one came first.

    Disgusted that a professional journo (Borzou Daragahi of the Financial Times) is claiming to know perps & has deciphered the intended message:

    “Borzou Daragahi ‏@borzou
    Bombing in Beirut most likely the work of Bashar’s Lebanese allies; Message is if Syria regime goes down, Lebanon will burn”

    This incendiary BS is unfortunately to be expected from sectarian hardliners, armchair “rebels” and neocons, but someone with his experience should refrain from committing credibility harakiri .

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 11:34 am
  7. Aljazeera now claiming that Wissam al-Hasan was killed.

    HUGE NEWS if true.

    Posted by Qifa Nabki | October 19, 2012, 12:02 pm
  8. Samir Geagea just confirmed Wissam Hassan was the target.

    Posted by JY | October 19, 2012, 12:10 pm
  9. Here we go again…Disgusting.
    I mourn for the innocent lives lost in what appears to be another assassination.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 19, 2012, 12:14 pm
  10. A World Without Despotism

    Obviously, we need another UN-sponsored STL to get the bottom of this.

    On second thought, if the Iranian and Syrian regimes go away, this may be a better solution.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 19, 2012, 12:25 pm
  11. Original source for info re: Wissam Hassan attributed to al-Jadeed. Also, there are reports that he had just returned to Lebanon “yesterday evening”

    Who would know of his schedule and why was he @ targeted locale? Tight logistics required for this killing.

    BTW, this veteran of Baghdad bombings, El Mundo journo Javier Espinosa: ‏

    @javierespinosa2
    Just back from scene of the explosion,I think is a car bomb, quiet sophisticated, a very small crater but great devastation #Beirut #Lebanonhttp

    //twitter.com/javierespinosa2

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 12:25 pm
  12. Truly disgusting.
    And as usual, the finger-pointing and blame begins instantaneously.
    Looks like this was yet another assassination (that will go unsolved). And yet another figure affiliated with the same M14 camp. And I’m sure the M8 camp will find a way to blame this on M14.
    Also gotta love the Syrian government condemning the blast as “cowardly”…Weeks after fairly damning evidence of their plotting exactly this kind of thing via Michel Samaha.

    What a rotten country.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 19, 2012, 12:28 pm
  13. It will be interesting to see if Hariri will visit Beirut for the funeral, If not, that means he will definitely not be able to for some time to come.

    Will there be elections?

    Posted by JY | October 19, 2012, 12:36 pm
  14. BV

    Who are M14 partisans blaming, again?

    They are already quick w/ the trigger finger pointing so your crabby preemptive assumptions that “the M8 camp will find a way to blame this on M14.” is a bit disingenuous and presumptuous.

    I would think that M8 would blame “foreign elements” for this particular kind of havoc as mostl recently seen in Syria and Iraq.

    …and then there’s always the zionist entity.)

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 1:40 pm
  15. BV, wish u were right. M8 partisans have already come out to blame Samir Geagea on social feeds.

    Posted by EJ | October 19, 2012, 1:55 pm
  16. Sara Assaf ‏@SaraAssaf
    When asked by @PaulaYacoubian now if he knew who killed Wissam Al Hassan, @HaririSaad answered: “Yes I know. It’s Bashar Hafez Al Assad.”
    Details

    How can anyone aside from Jeffrey Feltman & Co grant this idiot any credence?

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 2:16 pm
  17. I said both sides will start with the fingerpointing. And they have.

    But after repeated assassinations, over and over and over. One has to start questioning the sanity of those who insist that the obvious culprint can’t possibly be the ones to blame.
    Wissam Al Hassan has, like him or not, been vilified and threatened repeatedly by the M8 crowd. He has been a thorn in the side of HA and Assad (Samaha case, so-called false witnesses, etc. etc.).
    He has been publically threatened by thugs like Jamil El Sayyed (See yesterday’s entry by QN and my comment to it).
    And when he gets assassinated, who do we blame?
    Well, the SSNP is blaming Israel.
    The Syrian news agency is calling it a “cowardly act” (This is the same regime that was caught red handed smuggling explosives into Lebanon with intent to bomb targets in the North).
    The Aounis are probably blaming the Hariri-Feltman Salafi Club of Riyadh…

    I don’t know who is behind this explosion. But I find it somewhat offensive when so many people go through great lengths of convoluted thinking to blame everyone but the most obvious. While it is true that the simplest explanation is not ALWAYS the right one, most times, it usually is. And after dozens of such assassinations, it becomes harder and harder to NOT look at the most obvious statistical answer.

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 19, 2012, 2:29 pm
  18. Lally,

    You are right! How dare we blame or point a finger? We are all wrong! They are all committing suicide. It must be their delusional hallucination about freedom that’s driving them to blow themselves up for the past 30 years!

    Posted by danny | October 19, 2012, 3:14 pm
  19. It is disappointing and disheartening to see Lebanese, as well as others, once again point fingers, and dehumanize one another, all based on emotions….No one knows what happened, so as a result based on one’s emotions or political ideology one chooses the “scenario” that fits with their position. Based on the history of foreign affairs, anybody and everybody has motive and opportunity, so let us not point the finger.

    It is a shame that political leaders are going on air, enticing their constituents’ anger and fear, which will inevitably lead us down the road of no return to an embroiled civil war. One word could lead to War but not even a million words could stop the violence once it takes a life of its own.

    Out of respect for those that have been killed and injured, whether in Lebanon or in Syria, whether today or for the last 20 years, whether Christians or Muslims, whether March 8 or March 14, whether Conservative or Liberal, it would be best not to utilize the social media to sow fear, anger, and hate.

    The only fact that we truly know is that we do not know what truly happened (i.e. who organized it and how it was carried out).

    Posted by FK | October 19, 2012, 3:22 pm
  20. “Most obvious” culprit(s) to some = their political enemies.

    “Most obvious” culprit to me = who benefits?

    I find it “offensive” that some people completely ignore logic and proof in favor of placing blame according to political calculations while ignoring the inherent truth in asking and answering cui bono? Perhaps the difference lies being the product of a justice system that, at least on paper, demands that the prosecution present, you know, untainted evidence. Yup, I’m prejudiced that way.

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 3:25 pm
  21. Lally…

    Who benefits?

    Posted by Gabriel | October 19, 2012, 3:41 pm
  22. FK is right.

    BTW, QN’s fast moving twitter feed should be “followed” by all concerned with tracking the evolving narratives:

    http://twitter.com/QifaNabki

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 3:43 pm
  23. Gaby..

    It’s too soon to tell….

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 3:45 pm
  24. I guess this was all “predicted” by the Arab-League envoy Brahimi. What terror-monger whispered into HIS ear?

    http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2012/10/17/syria-envoy-brahimi-warns-conflict-could-spread/

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 19, 2012, 3:51 pm
  25. Al-Jazeera says “The explosion did not appear to target any political figure in Lebanon’s divided community”. Somehow, this seems unlikely….

    Posted by samadamsthedog | October 19, 2012, 4:17 pm
  26. Jerusalem Post military/security reporter tweets:

    “Yaakov Lappin ‏@YaakovLappin
    Assad regime, Hezbollah seem prime suspects in today’s Beirut car bomb assassination of anti-Syria Sunni intelligence chief Wissam al-Hasan”

    ….then explains that:

    “Yaakov Lappin ‏@YaakovLappin
    Beirut bomb significantly increases chance for sectarian conflict in Lebanon and spread of Syrian civil war. Watch this situation closely…”

    Because the above somehow benefits the accused?

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 5:56 pm
  27. Well, not to necessarily agree with YaakovLappin or to comment on this specific instance, but the fact that the Syrian regime saw it fit to ask Michel Samaha to cause sectarian unrest by planting bombs does kind of indicate that they do see a benefit in “increasing sectarian conflict in Lebanon”. No?

    Posted by Bad Vilbel | October 19, 2012, 6:27 pm
  28. There are rumors that Mikati will resign tomorrow.

    If so, will that mean mission accomplished?

    Posted by JY | October 19, 2012, 6:58 pm
  29. That crazy Samaha business is a puzzling bit of clumsy amateur adventurism and couldn’t contrast more with the slick professionalism displayed in the killing of Wassam.

    Same Syrian agency responsible for both incidents?

    Does Not Compute.

    As far as Lappin & Co go, they represent a perspective that has always seen instability among the neighbors as a gain for Israel. That opinion is prevalent among the neocons; less so among Israeli security professionals.

    Where in the hell was Wassam al-Hassan prior to his return to Lebanon “yesterday evening”?

    Any rumors surfacing about his time & place abroad?

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 7:29 pm
  30. and this coincided with the heightened rhetoric recently attacking Wissam-al Hassan (RIP) from prominent figures including Al Sayed, Aoun, Ayoub et al. The ‘dirty mouthers’ are always spilling their guts in the public sphere, and like Wiam Wahab, you can always tell what will come next from Syria just from the rhetoric they use, like reflectors of a prevailing culture within the enclosed smoky rooms of their masters.

    Posted by Maverick | October 19, 2012, 8:01 pm
  31. I hope that Mikati can withstand the disgraceful calls for his resignation from the political sociopaths inviting more bloody chaos for Lebanon. Probably a vain hope.

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 9:01 pm
  32. Lally,
    ” inviting more bloody chaos” for Lebanon…who? the M14 losers? i thought it was an open invitation, you know a free -for- all. Never mind the elephant in the room, let’s blame the losers for all Lebanon’s woes. This is prickling your side?
    The Lebanese were subjugated to enormous threats, of killings, and burning the whole country, smashing it into pieces, so on and so on by Syria’s mouthpieces. The Syrian army has killed scores of innocent civilians, including inside Lebanese territory. The Syrian regime have been implicated in numerous political assassinations and the laundry list goes on…. but the real threat here is the M14 hopeless band of incompetent misfits who are ” inviting more chaos ” to Lebanon by calling on the resignation of the Premier.
    Yeah, I hope he withstands too, though, to be honest that should be the least of priorities in Lebanon right now.

    Posted by Maverick | October 19, 2012, 9:47 pm
  33. Many have been insinuating that this was payback for Michel Samaha by Assad. Walid Jumblat wants to see it no other way.

    But what if this was done to try to split Lebanon’s Sunnis, Christian style, if Mikati holds on to his position as PM, or places Lebanon back into a vacuum ahead of the elections if he resigns?

    The way things are going, either way befits Hezbollah.

    Posted by JY | October 19, 2012, 9:56 pm
  34. Maverick,

    Syria and Iran are the “good guys”. Get with the program.

    Posted by Akbar Palace | October 19, 2012, 9:58 pm
  35. Re the “losers”; glad that we agree on something, Maverick.

    So, according to Reuters, Wissam Al-Hassan was in Germany. Why and who knew?

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 10:04 pm
  36. Here’s a new twist on the cui bono? question; international interventionistas suggested as an answer:

    “Oxford historian Mark Almond told RT that there could be many likely perpetrators behind the bombing, but “the most likely explanation is that it’s linked to the Syrian crisis.”
    “It’s not just that this is a kind of a natural process that there are overlaps of various groups over the borders of Syria into Lebanon, it’s also that it’s perhaps in the interest of one side to really internationalize this crisis,” he said.
    Saying that the opposition has regularly called for international assistance and intervention, Almond believes “the more the neighbors of Syria seem to be destabilized by the fighting inside Syria… the easier it is to make an argument that some kind of international intervention must come about in order to keep the peace.”

    http://rt.com/news/beirut-lebanon-explosion-police-797/

    The killing of Wissam as casus belli?

    This speculation, if borne out @ the UNSC and other venues of import, really raises the stakes.

    Posted by lally | October 19, 2012, 11:24 pm
  37. Innocent people Have been killed again !! and the saddest part is our Government never bothers looking for the criminals because they know who was targeted and who did it !!!
    our country is SOLED to murdered who are giving a handjob to Syrian regime ,once you sell something theres no getting it back !

    Posted by Aragorn | October 20, 2012, 5:46 am
  38. Thank you, Elias, for this almost instantaneous post, yesterday. What nightmarish news from Achrafiyeh. I am posting a link at my little blog (http://atransnationalvillager.blogspot.com/).
    -Debbie Trent (who finally finished her own dissertation late this summer).

    Posted by Debbie Trent | October 20, 2012, 7:24 am
  39. Why do people insist on going on a tangent about outrageous conspiracy theories. We are pointing to Syria and its hit men HA; as Lebanese have been “picked off” one by one through decades by the rotten Syrian mukhabart! I will not apologize foe being logical and common sensical. Unless you want us to subscribe to the rancid orange view championed by FPM & HA that all M14 “leaders” are being killed by their own allies (committing suicide) or off course ISRAEL.. Stop this nonsense please!!

    Posted by danny | October 20, 2012, 8:37 am
  40. بيروت ألفت الموت

    Posted by Vulcan | October 20, 2012, 11:38 am

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