A suicide bomber blew himself up in a passenger van in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Monday, wounding at least six people, the state news agency said.

The blast, which took place during the evening rush hour in the Choueifat district, appeared to be the latest in a string of attacks in Lebanon linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria. The conflict has deeply divided Lebanon along sectarian lines and helped fuel a surge in violence that has rattled the fragile country.

"Lebanon is being affected by the war in Syria. Full stop," said Interior Minister Marwan Charbel. "The security services — night and day — are doing their duties completely. But you know, suicide bombers are coming to die, so what can you do for a man who wants to die?"

Lebanese TV stations broadcast video showing the charred, mangled wreckage of the mini-bus and pieces of flesh scattered on the pavement.

One security official cited one of the wounded as saying a man blew himself up after boarding the mini-bus and confirming that it was heading to a predominantly Shiite area in southern Beirut. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media.

Choueifat is traditionally a Druse neighborhood, but is adjacent to a Shiite area.

A series of deadly bombings have targeted Shiite districts of Beirut's southern suburbs in recent months. The Hezbollah militant group has a strong presence in the districts, and the attacks are believed to be retaliation for the Shiite group's armed intervention in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad.


Associated Press writer Diaa Hadid contributed to this report.