'Man wearing an explosive belt' in Beirut kills one

Lebanese extinguish a minibus in fire at the site of an explosion on February 3, 2014 in Choueifat, south of the capital Beirut.</p>

Lebanese extinguish a minibus in fire at the site of an explosion on February 3, 2014 in Choueifat, south of the capital Beirut.

A suicide bomber detonated an explosive belt inside a public minibus south of the Lebanese capital Beirut on Monday, killing at least one person, the interior minister said.

"A man wearing an explosive belt boarded a public minibus in Choueifat and blew himself up," Marwan Charbel told Lebanon's Mayadeen television channel.

He said at least one person was killed in the blast, but it was unclear if that was in addition to the suicide bomber.

The blast is the fifth to hit Lebanon this year, and comes after at least four people were killed on Saturday in a suicide bombing in the eastern town of Hermel.

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Footage from the scene broadcast on television showed the mangled remains of a vehicle surrounded by shards of glass and other objects strewn across the road.

Red Cross communications director Ayad Monzer told AFP: "The bomber was killed, and two others were injured — a man, who is in critical condition, and a woman with moderate injuries."

Ali Mcheik said on LBC television that his brother was the man injured in the blast and had been driving the bus.

"When the bomber got on, he noticed that his stomach area looked bulky and asked him about it, then the bomber detonated his explosives," he said.

He told the channel that his brother Hussein Mcheik was undergoing surgery in a nearby hospital after surviving the attack.

Choueifat lies south of Beirut, not far from the suburbs of the city, which have been targeted in multiple bomb attacks in past months.

It is home to a mixed Christian and Druze population.

Previous blasts have largely targeted areas sympathetic to Lebanon's powerful Shiite group Hezbollah, which has dispatched fighters to battle alongside the Syrian regime against a Sunni-dominated uprising.

Jihadist groups believed to be linked to those fighting in Syria have claimed responsibility for most of the attacks, saying they will continue for as long as Hezbollah battles in Syria.

But while the attacks have apparently targeted Hezbollah, the victims have been civilians.

The explosions have created a climate of fear in the country, with residents increasingly nervous about unfamiliar cars and certain neighborhoods.

Charbel told Lebanon's MTV television that the country had seen a spike in the theft of cars, which were being driven across the border to Syria, packed with explosives and returned to Lebanon.

The latest attack drew swift condemnation from the US and British embassies in Beirut.

"Our thoughts are with the victims and their families. We condemn this act of terror," the US embassy in Beirut wrote on its Twitter account.

Britain's ambassador Tom Fletcher called the blast a "callous effort to terrorize and divide", on his Twitter account.