Explosions in Lebanon kill several, state run news agency says

Explosions tore through two buses traveling on a highway Tuesday near a mountain town northeast of Beirut, killing several people and injuring others, the country's state-run news agency said.

The news agency said that dozens of people were either killed or wounded but gave no exact figure on the number of dead. Arab media quoted Lebanese civil defense sources as saying nine were killed and at least 20 injured.

The explosions come at a time of increased sectarian tensions in Lebanon, and one day before the second anniversary of the slaying of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

A mass rally had been planned for Wednesday in downtown Beirut to mark the second anniversary of the slaying.

The 9.15 a.m. blast occurred on a road in the village of Ein Alaq, just south of the town of Bikfaya in the province of northern Metn, some 20 kilometers (12 miles) northeast of the Lebanese capital, reports AP.

Television footage showed at least one bus totally destroyed and ambulances carrying away people. Blood was pooled in several places near the bus wreckage. Troops in military uniforms and army buses were also at the scene.

The explosions took place in the town of Ein Alaq near the town of Bikfaya, the ancestral home of the Gemayel family, a prominent political Christian family in Lebanon. Pierre Gemayel, a Cabinet member, was assassinated last November.

The Lebanese news agency said the explosions targeted the two buses as they traveled on a highway near the town. It had few immediate details.

Appeals for urgent blood donations were broadcast as ambulances rushed casualties to hospitals in the region and in Beirut. The Voice Of Lebanon radio stations said the targeted buses were driving people to their work.

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