BEIRUT, Jan 15 (Reuters) - A car bomb targeted a U.S.
diplomatic vehicle in Beirut on Wednesday, killing at least
three people, but the U.S. State Department said no Americans
were hurt in the blast.
"There were no American diplomats or American citizens in
the car at the time. There were four Beirut residents who do not
work for the embassy who were killed in the blast," said State
Department spokesman Sean McCormack.
Security sources in Beirut had put the toll at three dead
and 16 wounded, including an American passenger, in the
explosion which hit the armoured U.S. four-by-four vehicle in a
Christian neighbourhood in the north of the capital.
The blast, which the Lebanese security sources said had
targeted the U.S. diplomatic vehicle, occurred as President
George W. Bush visited Saudi Arabia as part of a week-long
Middle East tour.
Ambulances and fire engines rushed to the scene. A column of
smoke rose into the sky and was visible across the city.
Television pictures showed blackened cars and twisted metal
alongside fallen masonry from nearby buildings.
Rescue workers covered a corpse with plastic sheeting.
Lebanese and U.S. security officials were at the scene.
Two passengers of a car behind the U.S. vehicle were killed.
The third victim had been walking nearby.
Lebanon has seen more than 30 explosions in the past three
years, many targeting anti-Syrian politicians and journalists.
Last week a roadside bomb wounded two U.N. peacekeepers in
The United States is a strong backer of the Beirut
government, which has been locked in a power struggle with the
Hezbollah-led opposition for more than a year. Hezbollah is
backed by Syria and Iran.
Listed by Washington as a terrorist group, Hezbollah last
week described Bush's visit as a "black day" for the region.
Bush has not visited Lebanon during his tour.
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