At least five people were killed and more than 80 wounded on Wednesday in a twin suicide attack near the Iranian cultural centre south of the Lebanese capital Beirut, security and medical officials said.

Witnesses said the area of Beir Hassan, which is also home to the Kuwaiti embassy, was rocked by two near-simultaneous explosions.

The blasts hit a security checkpoint near the Iranian cultural centre and a major sweets shop nearby, an Army officer at the scene told DPA.

A witness said the suicide bomber at the checkpoint blew himself up after a policeman looked at him suspiciously. The officer was among those killed.

The Lebanese Army confirmed in a statement that the explosion had been caused by a twin suicide bombing.

George Kettneh, the head of the Lebanese Red Cross, said the wounded included children at an orphanage in the area.

“Some of the wounded are listed in critical condition,” he told DPA.

The al-Qaeda-linked Brigades of Abdallah Azzam claimed responsibility for the attack.

“We are continuing our fight against Iran and their militia (Hezbollah) in Lebanon until they withdraw from Syria,” the group tweeted.

Prime Minister Tammam Salam condemned what he called a “terrorist” attack.

“The message has been received and we’ll respond to it with more unity and solidarity, and by holding on to our civil peace and rallying around our army and security forces,” he said in a statement.

The Iranian embassy said none of its staff had been seriously wounded in the attack.

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