2 suicide bombers hit southern Beirut, at least 37 dead

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At least 37 people have been killed and more than 180 others have been injured after two suicide bombers blew themselves up in a commercial area in the Lebanese capital of Beirut.

The attack happened just before 6 p.m. local time when two people blew themselves up on al-Husseiniya Street in the southern suburb of Burj el-Barajneh, a stronghold of Hezbollah, in the vicinity of the Mansour Shopping Center. One attacker blew himself up near a cafe while the other detonated his suicide vest about 150 meters (165 yards) away.

LBC and the Daily Star newspaper reported that a third attacker had fled the scene while a fourth was killed before detonating his suicide vest.

The Lebanese Red Cross confirmed that at least 37 people had been killed in the explosions, which happened only a few minutes apart. At least 181 others were injured in the attacks, including a number of people who remain in a critical condition, and the death toll could rise. An AFP photographer reported extensive damage to buildings around the blast sites and saw bodies inside some of the nearby shops.

In the hour after the attack, security forces fired multiple rounds into the air in an effort to disperse large crowds of people who had gathered at the sites. Major General Mohammed Khair, the Secretary General of the Supreme Rescue Council, called on local residents to stay away from the area of the attacks to allow rescue workers to assist the victims and carry out an investigation.

Lebanese Prime Minister Tammam Salam declared Friday to be a national day of mourning to honor the victims of Thursday’s attacks, and ordered the closure of public institutions and both public and private schools. The Lebanese parliament, meanwhile, marked the bombings by holding a minute of silence, after which Speaker Nabih Berri postponed the legislative session.

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