BEIRUT — A massive bomb wrecked the administration building at the American University of Beirut before dawn today. Four people were slightly injured, police said.
Destruction of the landmark College Hall building was the first major physical damage suffered by the venerable university, the Middle East's most prestigious, which celebrates its 125th anniversary today.
The university and an affiliated hospital in West Beirut remained open through Lebanon's 15-year civil war, although a school president was assassinated and other teachers, administrators and students kidnaped.
The blast leveled much of College Hall, including its clock tower, near the main gate at the sprawling seaside campus, witnesses said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion, which jolted Beirut residents awake at 3:40 a.m.
Iranian-backed Muslim fundamentalists have threatened attacks on American targets to protest the Arab-Israeli peace talks that opened in Madrid on Oct. 31 under joint U.S. and Soviet auspices.
Guards said the four injured employees suffered glass cuts and were treated at the university's hospital, the biggest in Lebanon.
A Lebanese riot policeman said the blast was caused by a 440-pound TNT bomb set off by a timing device inside the hall.