Explosion rocks area north of Beirut
NBC: Blast kills at least 3 in shopping center

NBC News and news services
Updated: 8:30 p.m. ET March 22, 2005

BEIRUT, Lebanon - An explosion rocked a Christian area north of Beirut early Wednesday, killing at least one person and wounding two others, police said.

Three people were killed in the explosion at a shopping center outside Beirut at 1 a.m. local time, a stringer for NBC News stationed in Beirut has learned. Several more were wounded. The explosive appears to have been planted, not carried by a suicide bomber, the stringer reported.

Police had no immediate word on what caused the blast near Jounieh, the main Christian port city 10 miles north of Beirut’s center.

LBC TV, the leading station in the country, said three people were killed and two wounded in the blast, which occurred shortly after midnight.

U.N.’s Annan: Syria to withdraw entirely from Lebanon

The explosion came amid major political turmoil in Lebanon in the wake of the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and the subsequent withdrawal of Syrian troops to east Lebanon and Syria. Demonstrations and counter-demonstrations, although largely peaceful, have kept tension high between the pro-Syrian and the anti-Syrian camps.

Early Saturday, a car bomb in a northern Christian suburb of Beirut injured nine people.
NBC News’ Moustafa Kassem in Lebanon and The Associated Press contributed to this report.