Twin bombings kill at least 37 in Beirut's first attacks since 2014

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Members of Shia Hezbollah's special forces stand on a vehicle during a rally in Beirut's southern suburbs on Oct. 24, 2015. Home to a large Shia population, these suburbs were the target of a number of attacks last year by radical militant groups from Syria. They were hit again by bombings on Nov. 12, 2015.
ANWAR AMRO

Editor's note: This is a developing story that will be updated as more news comes in.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — The Lebanese Red Cross said at least 37 people were killed and 141 more injured in a suspected suicide attack in Beirut’s southern suburbs on Thursday. 

Two blasts hit the neigborhood of Bourj el-Barajneh, close to Beirut's airport, shortly after 6 p.m. The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks.

Witnesses told the Daily Star newspaper that the second bomb exploded as people gathered near the site of the first explosion.

Some outlets reported at least 180 people injured by the blasts.

There were nervous scenes at a hospital near the bomb site, where people were trying to discover the fates of relatives. One woman fainted.

Beirut’s southern suburbs, home to a large Shia population, were the target of a number of attacks last year by radical militant groups from Syria. The Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra were suspected in attacks in 2014. Both groups are fighting the Lebanese Shia group Hezbollah in Syria, which has thrown its weight behind Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in the conflict.

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Thursday’s attacks are the first in the capital since June of last year, when Beirut saw two explosions in the space of a week. First a suicide bomber blew himself up, injuring 12, in the Tayyouneh neighborhood at the entrance to the southern suburbs; a suicide bombing at a Beirut hotel, which killed only the bomber, followed a day later.

Follow Richard Hall on Twitter for more from Beirut.