A car bomb explosion on Tuesday has wounded at least 38 people in the heart of a Hezbollah stronghold, reports Reuters, with fears of spillover tension and violence from neighboring Syria running high. 

Political tensions in Lebanon have increased recently, as civil strife in Syria echoes a Sunni-Shiite conflict waged here in past years.

Lebanese Interior Minister Marwan Charbel condemned the attack as a “criminal act aimed at destabilizing the country and creating Sunni-Shiite sectarian strife.”

The Shiite Hezbollah have recently intervened to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces. Sunni Muslim militants have threatened retaliation against Hezbollah for that move.

No one has yet officially claimed responsibility for the attack.

Many victims were apparently women and children out shopping.

Beirut’s last car bomb, in October, targeted a senior intelligence official.