Lebanon blasts hit Iran's embassy in Beirut

Key points

  • There have been two suspected suicide bomb attacks near the Iranian embassy in Lebanon's capital, Beirut.
  • A source close to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, a Lebanese jihadist group linked to al-Qaeda, says they were responsible.
  • At least 23 people have been killed, but there are conflicting reports about the fate of Iran's cultural attache. (All times in GMT.)

Live text

Reporting:

  • David Gritten 
  • Becky Branford 
  • Victoria Park 

Last updated 19 November 2013

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Welcome to our live page covering the aftermath of the two large explosions outside the Iranian embassy in Beirut, which Lebanon's National News Agency says have killed at least 20 people and wounded many more.

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It is not yet clear what caused the blasts in a predominantly Shia area of the Lebanese capital. Video footage showed widespread destruction, burning vehicles, charred bodies and a huge column of smoke.

Aftermath of the bomb explosion in Beirut

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A BBC correspondent in Beirut says those responsible wanted to send a clear message to Iran and Hezbollah, key backers of the Syrian government, which is currently trying to cut off one of the Syrian rebels' last remaining supply routes across the Lebanese border.

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There are conflicting reports about the fate of the Iranian cultural attache, Sheikh Ebrahim Ansari. Lebanese security sources say he was killed, but the Iranian ambassador told the Associated Press that he was critically wounded. The National News Agency says the dead include two Iranian nationals.

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Lebanon's Health Minister Ali Khali is now saying that at least 22 people have been killed and 146 wounded.

Red Cross workers recover a body from the scene of the explosions in Beirut

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Iran's cultural attache has died of his wounds, Ambassador Ghazanfar Roknabadi has now told the Associated Press.

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The Iranian ambassador tells Hezbollah's al-Manar TV that it is not clear whether the cultural attache was in the embassy itself or one of the residential buildings nearby at the time of the explosions.

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The extent of the blast damage is visible in this image:

Blast damage at scene of twin explosions in southern Beirut on Tuesday

TWEET

ABC News Middle East correspondent Alexander Marquardt tweets: "#Syria information minister accuses #Saudi intelligence and #Israel of being behind #Beirut blasts at #Iran embassy."

TWEET

Reuters Jerusalem correspondent Dan Williams tweets: "Tzachi Hanegbi, senior member of the Israeli parliament's foreign affairs and defence panel, says Israel had no role in the Beirut bombings... 'The bloodshed in Beirut stems from Hezbollah's involvement in the Syria crisis. Israel was not involved in the past, nor here.' - Hanegbi"