IS Kills 43 Civilians in Beirut

IS Kills 43 Civilians in BeirutIS Kills 43 Civilians in Beirut

A national day of mourning will be held Friday after two suicide bombers on motorcycles killed at least 43 people and wounded more than 200 others in a predominantly Shia area of southern Beirut.

The Islamic State militant group claimed one of the worst attacks in years in Lebanon, Al Jazeera reported.

"They targeted this place because they don't have any other way to fight us," Fouad Khaddam, an eyewitness at the scene, said. "They have run out of options ... They targeted this area because we are Shias. But let me be clear–we won't be fazed."

The health ministry and the Lebanese Army said the body of a third suicide bomber was found at the scene of the attack.

The explosions took place in the Burj el-Barajneh area, located off a main highway leading to Beirut's airport. Burj el-Barajneh, a well-known commercial and residential spot, suffered extensive damage from the two blasts.

The bombings came at a busy time in the evening when the streets were full of families gathering after work.

"Soldiers of the Caliphate" were responsible for the attack, according to a statement allegedly posted by IS, which was published a few hours after Thursday's blasts.

One of the suicide bombers blew himself up at the gates of a school, according to the Lebanese minister of education, Elias Bou Saab.

Witnesses said there were only minutes between the two blasts.

"I was standing outside my store with my friend when the first explosion happened," one resident, who was wounded in the explosion, said.

"He was martyred in the explosion. As I was trying to move him, the second explosion happened."

Much of southern Beirut is a Hezbollah stronghold and witnessed a string of deadly suicide explosions in 2014 claimed by al-Qaeda affiliates.

"What happened here is a crime ... This battle against terrorists will continue and it is a long war between us," Hezbollah official Hussein Khalil said from the site of the explosions.

"Unacceptable", newspaper L'Orient Le Jour said in a one-word front-page headline. Another daily, al-Diyyar, showed gruesome pictures of the bodies of the bombers, including a bloody disembodied head.

Al-Akhbar proclaimed there was "no room for retreat", after the group warned of a "long war" against its enemies.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attacks, urging Lebanon's security services and state institutions "not (to) allow this despicable act to destroy the relative calm that has prevailed in the country over the past year."