Join "Maronites of the Whole World" on Facebook.



Explosion hits Beirut

From Brent Sadler

CNN Beirut Bureau Chief

Friday, July 22, 2005; Posted: 7:26 p.m. EDT (23:26 GMT)


BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- An investigation has begun into a powerful explosion that rocked a Christian area of Beirut Friday night, hours after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice paid a surprise visit.

It was the second major blast in the Lebanese capital in less than two weeks.

No deaths were reported, but there were injuries, mostly from flying glass and debris.

The explosion occurred about 10 p.m. in a parking lot next to Monot Street, a popular entertainment district.

Video of the scene taken by Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation showed chaos, emergency workers moving through the crowd and security forces guarding the site.

During Rice's visit, she stopped at the grave of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the opposition leader assassinated on February 14, and laid a wreath.

She also met with his son, Sa'ad Hariri, a member of parliament and head of one of the largest blocs in the new government.

Rice's visit was seen as a U.S. endorsement of the new government.


Political assassinations

On July 12 Lebanon's outgoing deputy prime minister Elias Murr was among 12 people wounded by a blast that tore through a Christian neighborhood in northern Beirut. At least two people were killed.

U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan condemned it as a "terrorist act."

Murr is considered strongly pro-Syrian. He is the son-in-law of President Emile Lahoud, Syria's staunchest ally in Lebanon.