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By Mayssam Zaaroura

Daily Star staff

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

ZALKA, Lebanon: A powerful explosion has rocked Lebanon once again after weeks of calm, bringing fear and chaos to the country’s capital once again. At around 10.45 pm on Monday night, a blast occurred in Zalka, one of the capital’s Christian suburbs, raising speculation that the spate of bombings that had kept citizens at home had once again started their destruction.

According to security sources, a bomb placed near the car park of Hotel Promenade, inside Moussa shopping center went off, lightly injuring at least five people and causing extensive damage.

It was unclear who the bomb was targeting, but it was understood that it was not a car bomb, but an explosive placed inside the center.

The bomb resembles the series of explosions that targeted other Christian areas since the February assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri on February 14.

The Lebanese Health Minister Mohammed Khalifeh has asked all hospitals to accept the injured at the expense of the ministry, according to sources.

Witnesses said smoke was billowing into the night sky near a hotel. Ambulances and fire engines were headed to the scene.

Zalka, on the Mediterranean coast, is a mixed residential and commercial area on a main street. The area is heavily populated and has several cafes -- including a Starbucks coffee shop -- restaurants and other nightspots that were full of patrons and tourists.

The last explosion to target Beirut took place on July 22 in Monot Street, Achrafieh – one of the capital’s most frequented areas by youths. - The Daily Star