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Explosion hits Hezbollah stronghold in Beirut

Dozens of people have been wounded in an explosion in southern Beirut. The blast came in a part of the city that is controlled by the militant Shiite group Hezbollah.

Lebanese security officials said at least 53 people were injured in the explosion, which was caused by a car bomb. Several other cars in the neighborhood also caught fire. Officials were unable to confirm initial reports that a number of people had been killed in the explosion.

Correspondents said many building were also damaged in the blast, which occurred a day before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

It was not immediately clear who may have been responsible for Tuesday's blast, which occurred in an area where the Shiite militant group Hezbollah has a number of political offices.

There have been growing fears that the conflict in neighboring Syria could spill over into Lebanon. Hezbollah supports the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and many of its members have crossed the border to fight alongside his government's forces.

Although Lebanon's government has positioned itself as officially neutral with regard to the Syrian war, the country is divided along sectarian lines.

Sunni Muslims in the country, who support the rebels in Syria, have threatened to carry out attacks against Hezbollah targets in revenge for its support of Assad's regime.

The European Union strongly condemned Tuesday's attack and called on all parties in the country to "work together towards Lebanon's peace, security and stability."

pfd/hc (Reuters, AFP, dpa)