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article imageRoutine commute turns deadly as bombers target civilians

By Carolyn E. Price     Feb 14, 2007 in World
'I wasn't doing anything but trying to get to work.'
What started off as a regular Tuesday commute to work or school turned into a bloody nightmare when bombs blew up two buses in the village of Ain Alaq, near the village of Bikfaya northeast of Beirut. Michel Attar, 18, Lorrice Gemayel, 35, and Mahmoud Hammoud, an Egyptian national, died in the attacks. 23 other people were wounded.
The Lebanese Red Cross received a report at 8:51 a.m. of the first explosion, which struck a minibus that was transporting 26 people. Ten minutes later, a second minibus, carrying 24 people and driving in the same area, was bombed.
The Red Cross sent out eight ambulances and 30 medics to the scene.
"I heard an explosion. Then I opened the window and I saw a bus blowing up," an eyewitness named Samir told AFP. "It was horrible. I helped evacuate two people who lost their feet."
Leila Gemayel lay in a hospital bed, using her jacket as a second blanket. "I was going to work on the first bus. My friend was sitting next to me but she's dead now," Gemayel said, referring to Lorrice Gemayel. "My leg, my chest, my left arm are all injured. I wasn't doing anything but trying to get to work."
Grieving family members crowded into the various hospitals where the dead and injured were taken while surgeons in green scrubs rushed down the dirty halls, their sneakers dotted with blood. The mother of Michel Attar sat sobbing in a visitors' lounge, her cries could be heard throughout the first floor of the hospital for over two hours. One of her sons smashed his phone against the linoleum floor when he heard the news. Others who were still waiting for word, smoked quietly or called neighbors and friends to provide updates.
"I sat at the back of the bus on my way to university. There were over 20 people sitting with me," said Alain Khoury, 18. The skin on his face was shredded and bruised. "It was totally normal when I got on. I was on the bus for about 10 minutes and then the explosion happened. My friend was in the bus too but I don't know where he is."
Lebanon has seen a series of assassinations against prominent anti-Syrian figures since the explosion that killed former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri two years ago, but until today the attacks had not specifically targeted civilians. The most recent victim was Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, shot in broad day light on November 21, 2006.
The Gemayel family is from the Bikfaya area. Patricia and Nicole Gemayel, widow and sister of Pierre Gemayel, visited the wounded Tuesday afternoon at several area hospitals and tried to provide them some comfort and support.
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