Blast Rocks Lebanese Shopping Center

A bomb damaged a shopping center in a Christian area northeast of Beirut (search) Friday, the fourth attack against an anti-Syrian target in two weeks. The blast lightly injured seven people, one of them an American, police said.

The explosion in the resort town of Broummana (search), 10 miles northeast of the Lebanese capital, started a fire and shattered glass in several buildings, blew out store shutters and smashed several cars. Firefighters workers working in a steady downpour evacuated residents at the posh complex.

Broummana is lightly populated in winter but packed in the summer with Arab and other tourists. President Emile Lahoud's (search) hometown of Baabdat is only a few miles up the same mountain ridge.

Police said the bomb was placed in an underground parking lot at the center. Police estimated the explosive at 44 pounds.

Lebanon has been in turmoil since the Feb. 14 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (search) in a massive bombing on a Beirut street. The attack killed 19 others.

The assassination, which the anti-Syrian opposition blames on Syria and its Lebanese allies, set off massive anti-Syrian demonstrations and international demands that Damascus withdraw its army from Lebanon after nearly three decades. Since the assassination, Syria has pulled out 6,000 of its 14,000 troops.

The explosion at the posh complex was the fourth since March 19, when a bomb ripped through the commercial and residential neighborhood of New Jdeideh.

Four Days later, another bomb wrecked a shopping center in the port city of Jounieh and last Saturday, a bomb set fires to factories in an industrial zone in the Beirut suburb of Bouchrieh. In all, two people were killed and 21 injured.

Anti-Syrian leaders have blamed Damascus and allied Lebanese security authorities for the bombings they say are aimed at proving Syrian troops are needed to maintain security in Lebanon. The pro-Syrian camp blames saboteurs for destabilizing the country in order to invite international intervention.