The New Yorker

Two bombs in Beirut: An Iranian
target and an echo of Syria

Beirut bombing site. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

The twin explosions in southern Beirut on Tuesday morning came in quick succession: first, a suicide bomber rammed his motorbike into the gate of the Iranian Embassy, before 10 A.M. Then another drove an explosives-laden car into the area, leaving at least twenty-three people dead, including the embassy’s cultural attaché, and more than a hundred and fifty wounded.


The images from the scene were numbingly familiar. Plumes of black smoke billowed above Beirut’s skyline; the façades of nearby residential buildings were sheared off by the blast. Angry orange flames leapt from crumpled parked cars. Pools of blood and shattered glass carpeted the ground. Mangled bodies—or bits of them—were strewn all over the street, some covered with bedsheets, others exposed and undignified, broadcast live on local television stations that have no squeamishness and even less tact.


There is no pixellation or sanitizing of violence here in Beirut, where I live and where large-scale bombings are becoming routine. Often, the only things that seem to change are the names of the dead and the wounded, and if it took place in a mainly Shiite or largely Sunni neighborhood. But, this time, there were other differences, too: the target (the Iranian Embassy in the mainly Shiite southern suburbs of Beirut) and the tactics (a multi-stage attack involving suicide bombers rather than the usual parked-car bomb) represent a significant escalation in an increasingly violent Lebanese dispute over events in neighboring Syria.


(The New Yorker/Rania Abouzeid)

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A Shiite cleric walks past the site of Tuesday's Beirut bombings. (AFP/Anwar Amro)

Mangled bodies—or bits of them—were strewn all over the street, some covered with bedsheets.