Car explodes near Hezbollah base in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley
BEIRUT (Reuters) - An explosives-laden car blew up on Tuesday in a remote region of the Bekaa Valley controlled by Lebanon's Shi'ite Hezbollah movement, killing the driver and wounding at least two people who were pursuing the vehicle, security sources said.
The incident occurred about 20 km (13 miles) from the border with Syria, whose 33-month-old conflict has fuelled sectarian violence in Lebanon, including a series of car bombings which have killed scores of Sunni and Shi'ite Muslims.
The sources said Hezbollah officials, alerted to a suspicious car soon after 3 a.m. (0100 GMT), began to follow it in two vehicles. The car then exploded.
Footage broadcast by Hezbollah's Al Manar television showed at least two damaged vehicles, one of them overturned, and several piles of blackened, twisted metal scattered over a muddy and partially snow-covered plain.
Al Manar's correspondent said the car which blew up had been carrying about 50 kg (110 pounds) of explosives and its intended target was a nearby Hezbollah base. He said there had been casualties and that villagers in the area also reported hearing gunfire.
Lebanon's National News Agency said ambulances were seen racing to the scene near the Bekaa villages of Sbouba and Hrabta.
Many Lebanese Sunni Muslims support the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shi'ite Islam. Shi'ite Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to support Assad, while many Sunni jihadis have flocked to Syria to join the rebels.
The conflict has seeped back into Lebanon. Twin blasts struck the embassy of Iran - Hezbollah's patron - in Beirut last month. Bombs have also targeted Shi'ite districts of the capital and Sunni mosques in the northern city of Tripoli.
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