Eight killed as Beirut rocked by car bomb

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A huge car bomb in Beirut killed at least eight people and wounded dozens yesterday in the worst blast the city has seen in years.

The motive behind the attack was not immediately clear but it comes at a time when Lebanon has seen a rise in tension and eruptions of clashes stemming from the civil war in neighbouring Syria.

Security and Red Cross officials said at least 61 people were wounded in the attack in the mostly Christian neighbourhood of Achrafiyeh. The state news agency said 78 were wounded.

An Associated Press reporter at the scene saw bloodied victims being loaded in ambulances and heavy damage to residential buildings.

The bombing came just hours after it emerged that Lebanon’s tourism minister is considering suing the makers of the hit US TV series Homeland over the way Beirut is portrayed.

In a scene from the latest episode screened in the UK, a street in the Lebanese capital is shown swarming with militants carrying assault weapons as a Jeep pulls up carrying the world’s No 1 jihadi to a meeting with top Hezbollah commanders. The scene was actually filmed in Israel.

Tourism minister Fadi Abboud said he is so upset that he is considering a lawsuit. “The information minister is studying media laws to see what can be done,” he said.

Mr Abboud said Hamra Street in west Beirut is portrayed as a hotbed of violence, but it is actually a lively neighbourhood packed with cafes, bookshops and bars.

“It showed Hamra Street with militia roaming in it. This does not reflect reality,” he said.”

Twentieth Century Fox Television refused to comment.

Homeland is about a US Marine named who was a POW for years in the Middle East. The government and the public see him as a war hero, but a CIA operative believes he was turned by the enemy.

Despite its immense popularity, Homeland does not appear to have reached Hezbollah’s radar.

“I have no idea what you are talking about,” Hezbollah spokesman Ibrahim al-Moussawi told the AP when asked about the show. “This is the first I’m hearing about it.”