Explosion Rocks Lebanese Christian Suburb

( [email protected] ) Sep 19, 2007 04:48 AM EDT

An explosion Wednesday rocked a Christian suburb east of the Lebanon’s capital, killing at least four people and injuring 40, according to local media.

Security officials could not confirm the casualties reported by Lebanese Broadcasting Corp., a major Christian TV station, and a senior Lebanese security official said the cause was not immediately known, The Associated Press reported.

Television footage showed severe damage to nearby buildings and several cars on fire. The blast reportedly sent a cloud of gray smoke over the area.

"The explosion took place in the Sin el-Fil area near the Metropolitan hotel," a security source said, according to Reuters.

Lebanon has been hit by a series of mysterious bombings in the past two years, with a number of explosions targeting Christian areas.

In June, a bomb went off in an industrial area in Zouk Mousbeh, about 12 miles from Beirut and near the Christian town of Jounieh. Three days before, on June 4, a bomb exploded in an empty passenger bus parked in a Christian neighborhood east of Beirut Monday, injuring seven passersby.

And in May, an explosion across the street from a busy shopping mall killed a 63-year-old woman and injured 12 other people, sending black smoke billowing in Ashrafieh, an upscale neighborhood of the Christian sector of the Lebanese capital. According to AP, it was the fourth explosion in Ashrafieh in the last two years.