Samir Kuntar reportedly wounded in Beirut explosion

Explosion rocks Hezbollah headquarters in Beirut suburb, leaves 1 dead, 1 injured, DPA reports; Hezbollah denies report of injuries.

By OREN KESSLER
July 31, 2011 01:37
2 minute read.
The Jerusalem Post

Beirut Street 520. (photo credit: Bloomberg)

 
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One person was reported killed and another wounded when an explosion rocked an apartment building Friday night in a Hezbollah stronghold in south Beirut.

The Shi’ite group quickly dismissed speculation of a targeted strike on one of its members, attributing the blast to a faulty gas tank and insisting no one had been harmed.

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“No one was hurt in the incident and there was only property damage,” the statement said after news outlets reported the 10th-floor explosion had been the result of a hand grenade.

A Lebanese security source told the DPA news agency that Hezbollah men fired in the air to disperse onlookers, and prevented police investigators from reaching the area. LBC television also reported that group members had cordoned off the scene and not allowed Lebanese security to enter.

Lebanon’s An-Nahar and Al- Liwaa newspapers said a hand grenade, or small bomb, could have caused the blast, which triggered a massive fire in Dahiyeh, a sprawling Shi’ite neighborhood where Hezbollah enjoys its most fervent support.

Lebanon Files, a little-known website, reported that Samir Kuntar had been injured in the incident and that a body was seen being removed. That report, however, could not be confirmed and was not picked up by major Lebanese or foreign news outlets.



Kuntar is Lebanese and a former member of the Palestine Liberation Front. On April 22, 1979, at the age of 16, he participated in the attempted kidnapping of an Israeli family in Nahariya that resulted in the deaths of four Israelis and two of his fellow kidnappers. Kuntar was convicted in an Israeli court for murder of policeman Eliyahu Shahar, Danny Haran, and Haran’s four-year-old daughter, Einat, smashing her head against a rock and then against his rifle. He was also convicted of indirectly causing the death of two-year-old Yael Haran by suffocation, as her mother, Smadar, tried to quiet her while hiding from Kuntar.

In 1980, Kuntar was sentenced to four life sentences. Released in a 2008 swap for the bodies of two Israeli soldiers, Kuntar remains a reviled figure in Israel, a reminder of one of the most brutal acts of terrorism in the country's history.

He was given a hero’s welcome by Hezbollah on his return to Lebanon, and in the years since has emerged as one of the movement’s most visible and popular spokesmen.

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