Five killed, 80 injured in southern Beirut blasts (UPDATE 4)

Photo: Five killed, 80 injured in southern Beirut blasts (UPDATE 4) / Arab World

Details added (first version posted at 11:57)

Five people have been killed and at least 80 injured after two explosions hit a southern area of the Lebanese capital Beirut on Wednesday, according to Lebanon's health ministry.

Al-Qaeda linked Abdullah Azzam Bridages have claimed responsibility for the twin attacks on its Twitter account.

"In a little while, God willing, there will be important announcements on the attack of the Iranian cultural centre in Beirut by your brothers in the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, from the Hussein Bin Ali cell," it said.

The blast hit near the Kuwaiti embassy and the Iranian Cultural Chancellery in Beirut.

Beirut's southern suburbs, a stronghold of the militant movement Hezbollah, have been hit by four car bombs since July, the most recent of which occurred on Feb. 3.

Wednesday's attack marks the second time an Iranian property has been targeted. In November, a pair of suicide bombings at the Iranian embassy killed at least 25 people, including a diplomat.

Iran is a major backer of Hezbollah. Both are allies with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The series of attacks are linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria with Syrian rebels vowing to strike against Hezbollah in retaliation for its participating in the war.

The conflict has deeply divided Lebanon along sectarian lines and helped fuel a surge in violence that has rattled the already fragile country.

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