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Bomb explodes outside Lebanese Blom Bank in Beirut

A bomb has exploded in the western part of the Lebanese capital Beirut causing damage and minor injuries. The interior minister said the target was a major bank.

One of Lebanon's largest banks, Blom Bank, had almost all of its windows blown out in the attack. The Lebanese Red Cross said two people had suffered minor injuries in the blast.

Lebanon's Interior Minister Nuhad Mashnuq told the AFP news agency that a bomb containing about 3 to 4 kilograms (6.6-8.8 pounds) of explosives had been "placed behind the back wall of Blom Bank."

"It is clear that the bank was the target," Mashnuq said, and added in a television interview that the blast was "different" from other explosions that have occurred in the country in the past few years. The head of Lebanon's internal security force Ibrahim Basbous, however, said the bomb had contained around 15 kilograms (33 pounds) of explosive material.

Hezbollah link

The Lebanese banking sector has been at the centre of a crisis since the United States passed a law requiring banks to take steps to target the finances of the armed Shiite political group Hezbollah.

The Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act (HIFPA) threatens to punish any organization providing significant finance to Hezbollah.

Blom Bank is one of the banks that have closed accounts belonging to people suspected of links to Hezbollah.

Hezbollah flags in Beirut

Hezbollah flags in Beirut

Hezbollah's parliamentary bloc issued a statement last week saying the US law infringed Lebanon's national sovereignty. The Hezbollah movement is classified as a terrorist group by the United States. It wields a major political influence in Lebanon and receives funds from the Iranian regime.

The last bomb attack to hit the Lebanese capital had killed more than 40 people in November in the city's southern suburbs, an area where Hezbollah is dominant. That bombing, however, was claimed by the self-declared "Islamic State" (IS) movement.

No group has yet claimed responsibility for Sunday's bombing.

ss/jm (AFP, Reuters)