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A blast rocks St Mary's Syriac Orthodox Church Lebanon's Zahle's industrial district.

27 March 2011, Beirut: A bomb targeted a Syriac Orthodox church in the eastern city of Zahle's industrial district at dawn Sunday, causing heavy material damage.



The bomb, which consisted of about two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of TNT, was placed at the side entrance of St Mary's Syriac Orthodox church, told AFP. The device went off at 4:15 am (0115 GMT).

The National News Agency said the 2-kilogram TNT explosives were controlled by a mobile phone.

Media reports said the blast blew up St Mary's Church's door and damaged benches. Shrapnel reached the altar, they added. Seven cars parked nearby were also damaged. No one claimed responsibility.

The incident took place in the same area where seven Estonian tourists were kidnapped on Wednesday.

MP Elie Marouni told Voice of Lebanon radio station that the two incidents are interlinked and are aimed at creating instability in the Central Bekaa.

I denounce this type of attack and urge people to remain calm - Mor Yostinos Paulos Safar

"I denounce this type of attack and urge people to remain calm," said Archbishop Mor Yostinos Paulos Safar Safar, who hails from neighboring Syria and is bishop of Zahle, a mainly Christian town about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital Beirut.

Archbishop, Mor Yostinos, who inspected the damage accused "faithless people" of being behind the blast. "The explosion targets Lebanon and its security stability." He said he planned to hold Sunday mass at the church despite the attack.

The church is located in the industrial part of Zahle, where seven Estonians were kidnapped earlier this week by armed men. Officials have launched a large manhunt but have so far been unable to locate the missing men.

Hariri condemns the attack against the Zahle Church


27 March 2011, Beirut: Caretaker Prime Minister Saad Hariri contacted this afternoon the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Zahle Mor Yostinos Paulos Safar Safar, denouncing the bomb attack against St Mary’s Church in Zahle this morning.

PM Hariri expressed his solidarity with Archbishop Safar, as well as with the Syrian Orthodox community and the people of Zahle, and announced that the necessary steps have been taken to find the attackers and defer them in front of the relevant judicial authority. 

Geagea condemns Zahle church blast


28 March 2011, Beirut: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea condemned the bomb explosion that targeted St Mary Syriac Orthodox church in Zahle on Sunday.

Geagea contacted Zahle Bishop Mor Yostinos Paulos Safar on Sunday to voice his condemnation, a statement issued by his press office said.

“We highly denounce the bombing which comes a week after security measures were lifted from near the church and a few days after the abduction o the seven Estonians from same location.”

A blast detonated outside St Mary's Church in Zahle industrial city on Sunday., causing only material damage to the church and the cars parked outside. 

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