Hamas official wounded in Lebanon car bombing

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Palestinian officials point finger at Israel as sources say the publicly unknown official had a 'security role'

People inspect the damage from the bomb which wounded Mohamed Hamdan in the southern port city of Sidon (Reuters)
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Sunday 14 January 2018 15:13 UTC
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A bomb wounded a member of the Palestinian group Hamas in the Lebanese city of Sidon on Sunday, destroying his car outside his apartment.

The target, Mohamed Hamdan, was not a publicly known Hamas figure in Lebanon and did not appear to have a public or political role. A Palestinian security source told AFP that he was a member of the organisation's security apparatus. 

"Hamdan is an official in Hamas's security service. His work is linked to internal Palestinian affairs," the source said. "Because of the nature of his work, the fingers are pointed to the Israeli enemy."

A leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement in Lebanon said Hamdan was involved in operations in Israel. "The incident has Israeli fingerprints," Mounir al-Maqdah, the Fatah official, told Reuters.

Al-Manar television, run by the Lebanese political and military group Hezbollah, described Hamdan as an important person in Hamas. It reported that he appeared to have a security role and was being tracked by Israel.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Half-kilogramme bomb

"The blast wounded his leg, destroyed his car and damaged the building," Hamas’ Lebanon branch said in a statement. The Lebanese army said a half-kilogramme bomb had been placed in his vehicle and detonated at around noon (1000 GMT).

Security forces sealed off the site of the explosion in a northern residential district of the city, 40km south of Beirut, and firefighters arrived to put out the flames.

The Red Cross confirmed that there was only one person wounded in the blast and said he had been transported to hospital in a civilian vehicle.

Conflicting reports emerged about the extent of Hamdan’s injuries. AFP cited a medical source at the scene saying Hamdan suffered serious wounds to his legs while opening the door to his car and was undergoing surgery.

A Hamas official in Sidon, Ayman Shanaa, told Palestinian television station Paltoday that Hamdan was "slightly wounded" in the attack.

Hamas has fought three wars with Israel in the past decade and is based in the Gaza strip, but it operates branches elsewhere in the Middle East including Lebanon. 

Tens of thousands of Palestinian refugees live in Lebanon, many of them in 12 camps across the country, two of which are in Sidon.

The most densely populated of these camps is Ain al-Hilweh, which lies near Sidon and is home to some 61,000 Palestinians, including 6,000 who have fled the war in neighbouring Syria.

By longstanding convention, Lebanese authorities do not enter Palestinian camps, where security is instead left to joint Palestinian security forces. 

These units – which include Hamas and rival Palestinian faction Fatah – have fought several battles with other groups inside Ain al-Hilweh.