LEBANON: Mysterious explosion in Hezbollah member's house
A mysterious explosion went off in the home of Hezbollah member Abdel Nasser Issa in southern Lebanon on Monday evening, sparking a flurry of contradictory reports regarding the cause of the blast and number of casualties.
Hezbollah denied initial reports that five people had died, including a party official and his son. Local media claimed that no one was killed but that Issa was undergoing treatment at a nearby hospital for serious injuries.
The Israeli army issued a statement claiming the explosion "proves again the presence of weapons forbidden in southern Lebanon" under U.N. Resolution 1701, and Israeli resident Shimon Peres accused Hezbollah of turning Lebanon into a "powder keg." But as of this afternoon, Hezbollah's news channel, Al Manar, was favoring an AFP report suggesting the explosion may have taken place while Issa was attempting to defuse unexploded Israeli ordnance he found next to a nearby river.
A spokeswoman for the U.N. peacekeeping force confirmed that the Israeli Army requested an investigation into the explosion, which comes just a few months after another mysterious blast in an abandoned house near the Israeli border which was widely believed to have been caused by a Hezbollah weapons cache. Hezbollah has maintained that the building contained unexploded Israeli shells from the 2006 July war.
-- Meris Lutz in Beirut
Photo: the first-floor garage where the explosion took place was scorched when a still-unexplained explosion went off Monday night. Credit: Naharnet.com