Players_theaterWe are fine and still in one piece so far. We were home when the blast occurred around 9:00pm. We heard it loud and clear! The apartment shook a bit as a result of the blast but we dismissed it, jokingly saying it must be al-Qaeda.

Apparently it was a real blast. Since the target at the outset appears to have been a British school, I’m going to go ahead and say it looks like it must have been a terrorist attack! I don’t think I ever heard a bomb blast before. That was a first.

Recently, an audiotape was circulated on an Islamic website from al-Qaeda’s branch in Saudi Arabia threatening that there would be a bomb blast in Doha, Bahrain, Oman and the UAE. This one appears to have occurred about 500-700 meters from the Qatar TV/Jazeera complex. The facility is referenced on maps as the Doha Players Theater. [Image above from Arabic]

Great. Living here just keeps getting worse. In addition to all the things that we deal with on a regular basis, now we have to live in fear. That’s just great. Thus far, there’s no deaths being reported. I’ll post updates as things become more clear.

Here’s the geographic location of the blast, on Al Wabra St. in Doha (map is ‘zoomable‘) and the latest from Aljazeera:

Loud blast in Qatari capital of Doha

An explosion occurred in a theater near a British school in the Qatari capital Doha and some people were wounded, Al Jazeera television and witnesses said. The cause of the blast in the theater, known as the "Doha Player," was not immediately known.

Dozens of people, including foreigners, were watching a play being staged at the theater, the television said. It said a blaze broke out in the building and the blast set some cars in the area on fire. It showed footage of firefighters trying to put out flames and said ambulances took some wounded to hospital.

An AFP correspondent some 500 meters (yards) from the scene of the blast saw plumes of smoke rising from the site and a large number of ambulances.

Police have sealed off the Farek Kelab district, a residential area 5km north of the city center, where the theater is located, witnesses have said. A Shakespeare play was being performed at the theater when the explosion went off.

The British Embassy’s duty officer Bassam Tahtamouni has said that at present the Embassy has no further details as to what caused the explosion or whether the British school has been affected by the explosion.

US Embassy spokeswoman Patricia Kabra said the blast was "not that far away from the embassy … There is no information yet about the cause of the explosion," she said.

Qatari officials were not immediately available to comment. The explosion took place at about 9:15 pm local time (1815 GMT).

Update #1: Recent reports indicate that one person has been killed and as many as 50 taken to Hamad Hospital for treatment. No final assessment has been made, however. The blast apparently occurred inside a restaurant in the theater itself. The district is some distance from the US Consulate but a little over 1km from the British Embassy. Some reports have even suggested the cause to be a gas explosion in the kitchen. Here’s the latest from the AP and some recent images here, here, here and here.

Update #2: As the light of day illuminates the site of the attack, it has become clear that this was not a kitchen-related gas explosion. This was a suicide car bomb attack that has left two dead: one Briton and the bomber. Reports of the injured vary but AP is going with the official estimate of 16, earlier reports suggested 50 brought to the local Hamad Hospital. The AP story continues to be the most complete. I’ll put up a new post pulling together the latest details shortly.