BEIRUT, Lebanon, March 27, 2011 (AFP) - A bomb exploded overnight at the entrance of a church in the eastern Lebanese city of Zahle, causing no injuries, a church official said Sunday.
The bomb, which consisted of about two kilograms (4.4 pounds) of TNT, was placed at the side entrance of St Mary's Church, a Syriac Orthodox church, Monsignor Youstinios Boulos Safar told AFP.
The device went off at 4:15 am (0115 GMT), blowing out a side door of the church and damaging benches inside as well as the altar, Safar said.
Seven cars parked nearby were also damaged. No one claimed responsibility.
"I denounce this type of attack and urge people to remain calm," said Safar, who hails from neighbouring Syria and is bishop of Zahle, a mainly Christian town about 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital Beirut.
He said he planned to hold Sunday mass at the church despite the attack.
The church is located in the industrial part of Zahle, where seven Estonians were kidnapped earlier this week by armed men. Officials have launched a large manhunt but have so far been unable to locate the missing men.
Joseph Maalouf, an MP from Zahle, said Sunday's incident as well as the kidnappings were clearly aimed at sowing unrest in the region.
"This is part of efforts to undermine civil peace and security, especially as Lebanon has been without a government for more than two months," Maalouf told AFP.
"Security forces must quickly stop these kinds of attacks and reveal any information they have on these incidents," he added.
Lebanon has been without a government since January, when the powerful Shiite militant group Hezbollah toppled premier Saad Hariri over his refusal to cut ties with a UN court probing the 2005 assassination of his father Rafiq Hariri.
Billionnaire businessman Najib Mikati was appointed with the blessing of Hezbollah to form a new government but he has yet to do so amid wrangling for cabinet posts among the various political parties.