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There has been a powerful and deadly explosion in southern Beirut.

The blast was near a complex used by Lebanon’s militant group Hezbollah.

Lebanon’s health minister said 16 people had died and more than 200 were wounded.

Eyewitnesses reported a number of cars destroyed and extensive damage to at least six buildings with people trapped inside by fires.

Lebanon’s interior minister confirmed the cause was a car bomb.

A previously unknown Islamist group claimed responsibility for the explosion in a video posted on the internet, saying it had targeted Hezbollah. In the video it claimed this was its second such operation and there would be more.

The blast occured one month after a huge car bomb wounded 53 people in a nearby neighbourhood.

The area is a stronghold of Hezbollah which has been fighting alongside President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria’s civil war.

The violence raises fears of Lebanon being pulled further into that conflict.

Residents of southern Beirut said Hezbollah, backed by Iran and Syria, had been on high alert and stepped up security in the area after warnings from Syrian rebels of possible retaliation for the group’s support for President Bashar al-Assad.

Copyright © 2014 euronews

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