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Twin suicide bombs kill at least 37 in Beirut

By Danielle Haynes

BURJ AL-BARAJNEH, Lebanon, Nov. 12 (UPI) -- Twin suicide bombs exploded Thursday in a crowded, predominantly Shiite neighborhood south of Beirut killing at least 37 people and injuring 177, Lebanese officials said.

The attacks took place during the evening rush hour in the town of Burj al-Barajneh, the location of a Palestinian refugee camp. The first blast detonated near a coffee stand in the Ain al-Sikke neighborhood, the second about 100 feet away near a bakery, witnesses told Lebanon's The Daily Star.

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A third suicide bomber was reportedly killed when the second bomb went off, Health Minister Wael Abu Faour said. The third attacker's explosive belt was not detonated.

A Lebanese security official and the Lebanese Red Cross confirmed at least 37 people died and 177 were injured. Abu Faour said several of the injured were in serious condition.

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Though southern Beirut is considered a Hezbollah stronghold, the area under attack is known as a gathering place for residents to visit cafes and shop.

"This is not an area where Hezbollah has security offices or anything," one witness told Al Jazeera. "This is an area where there are children and women and normal people just doing their shopping."

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No group has claimed responsibility for the blasts, but the Islamic State and the al-Qaida-linked Nusra Front have both launched attacks on Shiite areas of Lebanon in response to Hezbollah support. Hezbollah fighters have been aiding Syrian troops in the battle against the IS -- also identified as Daesh, ISIS and ISIL.

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Prime Minister Tammam Salam declared a day of mourning for Friday, calling the attacks "cowardly."

"I pray that this tragedy is enough to wake politicians up so that they can put their differences aside so we can protect the country," he said in a statement.

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