Bomb wounds Hamas member in Lebanon

By Tom Perry

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A bomb blast wounded a member of the Palestinian group Hamas in the Lebanese city of Sidon on Sunday, destroying his car as he was about to get in.

The target, Mohamed Hamdan, was not a publicly known Hamas figure in Lebanon. A statement from Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, confirmed he was a member of the group, without detailing his role, and said "initial indications" suggested Israel was behind the bombing.

There was no immediate comment from Israel.

Al-Manar television, run by the Lebanese political and military group Hezbollah, described Hamdan as an important figure in Hamas, adding that he appeared to have a security role and was being tracked by Israel.

The blast took place around noon (1000 GMT), the Lebanese army said in a statement. Security forces sealed off the site of the explosion, in a northern residential district of Sidon, 40 km (25 miles) south of Beirut.

The blast destroyed Hamdan's silver BMW and sent a column of smoke into the sky, footage from the scene broadcast by Lebanese television stations showed. Fire fighters doused the vehicle.

A leader of the Palestinian Fatah movement in Lebanon said Hamdan was involved in operations in Israel. "The incident has Israeli fingerprints," Mounir al-Maqdah, the Fatah official, told Reuters.

Hamdan was "slightly wounded" in the attack, a Hamas official in Sidon, Ayman Shanaa, told the Palestinian television station Paltoday.

Witnesses said the man targeted in the attack appeared to have been wounded in the leg. He was taken to hospital, where he was being treated. Sidon is home to two of the 12 Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon.

(Reporting by Tom Perry; Additional reporting by Nidal al-Mughrabi; Editing by Louise Heavens and Kevin Liffey)

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