World Bulletin / News Desk
The death toll from a car bomb which ripped through the southern Beirut stronghold of Lebanon's group Hezbollah rose on Friday to 24, and the government said it was investigating whether the blast was a suicide attack.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said investigators were checking CCTV footage in the moments before the explosion to see whether the van which was believed to be carrying the bomb had been driven by a suicide bomber or detonated remotely.
"The first hypothesis is that the driver blew himself up, while the second hypothesis says that the car may have been blown up from a distance," Lebanon's National News Agency quoted Charbel as saying.
Reporters who arrived at the scene minutes after the explosion saw a burnt-out car near the centre of the road, suggesting it was being driven when it blew up.
Hezbollah parliamentarian Ali Ammar told reporters in south Beirut on Friday that the death toll had reached 24, while Health Minister Ali Hassan Khalil said 21 bodies were taken to hospitals and another 335 wounded people had been treated.
The discrepancy in death tolls may be the result of some bodies being too badly damaged in the explosion to be collected or identified.
Among the dead were a family of five - a father, mother and their three daughters - who were killed in their car by the blast, which destroyed several vehicles and briefly engulfed the lower floors of adjacent building in flames, trapping residents.
Forensic investigators, emergency workers and security forces were still working at the site on Friday morning, amid burnt out cars and charred facades of residential buildings.
Nearby, masked men fired in the air as the first funeral processions of victims of Thursday's explosion drove slowly through the streets of densely populated south Beirut.
Last Mod: 16 Ağustos 2013, 12:18