Mikati calls Iran Ambassador after Explosions (+Video)
TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Soon after deadly twin explosions around Iran's embassy in Beirut, Lebanon's Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati called the Iranian ambassador, who escaped the attacks unharmed, and called the attack a cowardly terrorist act.
According to sources, at least 23 people are reported to have been killed in two explosions which struck near the Iranian embassy in Beirut in quick succession, while at least 146 others have been injured. Officials have said the death toll could rise.
The main gate to the embassy was blown out and there was damage to the three-storey building, but the embassy's well-fortified building itself suffered relatively minor damage.
An Al-Manar reporter has quoted informed sources as saying that the first explosion was caused by a suicide bomber, and that the second explosion -- a car bomb -- went off after many people had gathered at the scene of the first blast.
Iran’s cultural attaché in Beirut, Sheikh Ebrahim Ansari who had only taken up his post a month ago, was also among the dead in the blasts.
The Iranian ambassador to Beirut confirmed Ansari's death, but said it was not clear if he had been in the embassy itself or one of the residential buildings nearby.
The ambassador blamed Israel for the attack, but Israel was quick to reject this.
Meanwhile, Lebanese Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati has also called Iran’s Ambassador to Beirut Ghazanfar Roknabadi to discuss the deadly incident.
"The aim of the blast is to stir up the situation in Lebanon and use the Lebanese arena to convey messages," Mikati had said earlier.
Lebanese Daily Star quoted security sources as saying that the blasts, only minutes apart, blew up only meters away from the Iranian embassy in the neighborhood of Bir Hasan.
Television footage showed at least two charred bodies lay on the street leading to the embassy. Debris littered the street and several cars were seen burning.
The Lebanese army has cordoned off the area around the Iranian embassy.