Speaking to al-Manar television channel, the minister stated that the blast was carried out by a suicide bomber, which also injured at least 15 people.
A security source told Reuters that, besides the three dead bystanders and the dead bomber, 28 other people had been wounded in the blast.
“We think it is a suicide attack,” he added.
However, Hermel’s Municipality Head, Subhi Saqr, stated to the Lebanese National News Agency (NNA) that at least 28 were wounded.
Furthermore, the proximity of the explosion, which took place around 6:00 pm, to the al-Aytam gas station had sparked a huge blaze that hindered the arrival of emergency services, according to statements by a security source to NNA.
Some news channels were giving a death toll as high as five people.
According to the Lebanese National News Agency, the blast was also in proximity of a school hosting orphans. The al-Mabarrat school confirmed that none of their resident students were hurt
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati condemned the attack.
“Once again, the hands of treason target a Lebanese region and claim the lives of innocent citizens,” he said.
Lebanon’s caretaker interior minister, Marwan Charbel, told Reuters by phone that the situation in Lebanon was “unstable and getting worse every day.”
“This matter is very, very dangerous,” he said. “It is bigger than the security apparatus.”
Tensions surfaced elsewhere in Lebanon after the explosion.
Residents of al-Labweh blocked the road to Ersal in protest of the recent explosion at Hermel. While in Beirut, a hand grenade was thrown at the al-Manar’s headquarters, according to a report by al-Mayadeen television channel.
A car bomb had previously hit Hermel on January 16, killing five and injuring 40. The previous attack had been claimed by the Lebanon branch of the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front.
(Al-Akhbar, AFP, Reuters)