“The bomb sent a column of smoke into the sky, tore masonry from buildings and destroyed at least six cars in a Christian suburb north of Beirut, as well as damaging the armored four-wheel-drive embassy car.”
By Tom Perry for Reuters:
BEIRUT (Reuters) – A car bomb damaged a U.S. diplomatic car in Beirut on Tuesday, killing at least three people and wounding 16, and the U.S. State Department said no Americans died in the blast.
The bomb sent a column of smoke into the sky, tore masonry from buildings and destroyed at least six cars in a Christian suburb north of Beirut, as well as damaging the armored four-wheel-drive embassy car.
The blast coincided with U.S. President George W. Bush’s visit to Saudi Arabia as part of a week-long tour of U.S. Middle East allies.
Bush is not visiting Lebanon, though Washington has been a strong backer of the Beirut government in its power struggle with the Hezbollah-led opposition backed by Syria.
The Lebanese government put the death toll at three but the U.S. State Department said the bomb killed four Beirut residents. None worked for the embassy.
“There were no American diplomats or American citizens in the car at the time,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said. A Lebanese national working for the U.S. embassy and a driver were in the car when it was attacked, and the driver was slightly wounded, he said. An American passer-by was also hurt.
Lebanese and U.S. security officials were at the scene, where rescue workers covered a corpse with plastic sheeting. Pools of blood covered the road. Two of the dead were Lebanese and the third a Syrian, security sources said.
“I’d like … to just state the outrage of the United States against the terrorist attack that took place in Lebanon today,” U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who is traveling with Bush, told a news conference in Riyadh.