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Residents and Lebanese army members inspect a damaged area caused by two explosions in Beirut's southern suburbs, Lebanon November 12, 2015. © 2015 Reuters

(Beirut) – The double suicide attack on the residential neighborhood of Bourj al-Barajneh, in Beirut, on November 12, 2015, was a callous and despicable act. The attack killed more than 40 people and wounded more than 200, according to a local news outlet. The extremist group Islamic State (also known as ISIS) claimed responsibility for the attack.

According to the Lebanese army, two suicide bombers walking through crowded streets in the Ain al-Sikkeh area of Bourj al-Barajneh detonated explosive belts within minutes of each other, at about 6 p.m. A third would-be suicide bomber was found dead at the scene, local media reported, before he was able to detonate his explosive belt. The attack was the first to hit Lebanon’s capital since a suicide bomber detonated himself in a hotel in June 2014.

“The deadly attack in Beirut shows the assailants’ callous disregard for human life,” said Nadim Houry, deputy Middle East director. “In the face of such horrors, it is more important than ever for Lebanese authorities to show through their response a strong commitment to the rule of law and to maintain calm by preventing any attacks in retaliation.”

Violence from neighboring Syria has spilled over into Lebanon in the past few years – in the form of kidnappings, cross-border shelling, and car bombings. Several Syrian extremist groups, including Jabhat al Nusra, claimed responsibility for a series of bombings in the Beirut suburbs in 2013 and 2014. Such attacks have killed scores of people.

Human Rights Watch documented attacks by private Lebanese citizens against Syrians in Lebanon following the outbreak of clashes in Arsal in August 2014 between the Lebanese Army and ISIS, and Jabhat al-Nusra, and the armed groups’ subsequent executions of Lebanese soldiers. The attacks against Syrians, most of them refugees, were carried out in a climate of official indifference and discrimination.

The Lebanese authorities should take all appropriate steps to quell tensions and a potential outbreak of further violence following this attack. All investigations into the attack should ensure that due process rights are respected, Human Rights Watch said.

“Our thoughts are with the victims and their loved ones,” Houry said. “Lebanese authorities should ensure that all those responsible for this attack are brought to justice.”

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