At least one person was killed and seven were injured in a fire and explosion near a scout center affiliated with the Shi’ite, Hezbollah-allied Amal Movement in Bnaafoul near Sidon in southern Lebanon on Monday night, according to Lebanese media.
The victim killed in the explosion was identified by Lebanese media as the son of Bnaafoul’s mayor. The cause of the explosion is still unclear.
The Iranian IRNA news site stated that according to some reports, the site of the blast was used by the Amal Movement to store ammunition and weapons. The Lebanese al-Janoubia reported that the site was used as a weapons depot as well.
The Amal Movement stated later on Tuesday that a fire had broken out at the site, causing oxygen tanks used for coronavirus patients to explode.
A security source told Reuters that the explosion was not caused by an act of sabotage. According to the Lebanese daily Annahar, it was caused by a tank containing diesel for generators – and shots were reportedly fired before the blast.
The explosion led to the destruction of the municipal council building and extensive damage to an adjacent building, according to the Lebanese online newspaper Elnashra.
A dispute broke out between the Lebanese Army and Amal members at the site on Tuesday morning, according to Annahar.
The Lebanese Red Cross told the paper that the exact number of victims is unknown and that teams are searching the site for the wounded.
The IDF has repeatedly warned that Hezbollah stores weapons near civilian buildings, including schools, mosques and residences.
In January, an explosion was reported at a site belonging to Hezbollah between Deir El Zahrani and Houmine El Faouqa in southern Lebanon. According to LBCI news, a series of explosions were reported at a military site belonging to Hezbollah on the banks of the Zahrani River. No injuries or deaths were reported in the incident.
Sawt Beirut International Radio (Voice of Lebanon) reported at the time that Hezbollah members quickly cordoned off the area and prevented an ambulance from approaching the scene. An-Nahar reported that journalists were prevented from reaching the area as well. According to An-Nahar, local residents could see flames from a distance after hearing a “very loud” explosion.