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Powerful Blast Hits North of Beirut, Wounding 2

A powerful blast hit a Christian neighborhood north of Beirut on Monday night, wounding at least two people, Lebanese security officials said.

The explosion rocked the Zalka area north of the capital, said the security officials.

A bomb went off outside a commercial center which houses a hotel, cafes and shops, blowing out the wall of the building and causing heavy damage to it, they added.

Billows of black smoke were seen rising into the sky over the area and ambulances were racing to the scene.

The cause of the blast was not immediately known.

Lebanon has witnessed a string of bombing attacks since the February assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

The most recent explosion occurred in a Christian neighborhood in July following a surprise visit by US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Beirut, injuring 12 people.

(Xinhua News Agency August 23, 2005 )

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