Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Beirut blast 'was suicide attack'

"In Beirut, large crowds went to the site of the explosion, which investigators said appeared to be the work of a suicide attacker who managed to drive in between cars of Mr. Hariri's motorcade. Another theory was that the bomb had been placed in a sewer or under the pavement. Though there were some in Lebanon who argued that the murder might have been engineered by Al Qaeda, presumably to punish Mr. Hariri for his ties to Saudi Arabia, demonstrators mobilized throughout the country to blame Syria." (New York Times)

"Defiant Syrian officials have claimed that smaller, weaker Lebanon, whose current president is staunchly allied with Syria, depends on Syrian soldiers and intelligence agents to keep the peace among various Lebanese factions.The bombing shattered the logic of that argument. With or without Syrian involvement, somebody managed to kill one of the nation's most celebrated politicians with some 300 kg of explosives in broad daylight in the bustling city center." (LA Times)

"The Bush administration last night withdrew its ambassador from Syria and expressed "profound outrage" at the assassination of the former prime minister of Lebanon, Rafik Hariri. (...) Opposition leaders also demanded that Syria withdraw all its 14,000 troops and called for the government's resignation. Marrouf Daouk, a senior adviser to Hariri, told the Guardian: "We don't want a war, we have had enough war. But the international people, they have to talk about this, and not just for a couple of days." (Guardian)

"The US secretary of state has warned Syria against interfering in Lebanon, following the killing of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri by a car bomb. (...) State department spokesman Richard Boucher said the US was not blaming Syria directly for Mr Hariri's death. But he said the incident underlined what he called the distortions caused by the presence of 14,000 Syrian troops in Lebanon." (BBC News)

"Syria rejects allegations of involvement in Hariri's death as a ``sinister plot'' meant to tarnish the country, the Syrian ambassador to the U.S., Imad Moustapha, said yesterday on Cable News Network. ``What is happening in Lebanon is harming Syria and is contrary to Syria's interests.''
Lebanon's interior ministry yesterday released a statement saying Ahmad Abu Abas, a Palestinian born in 1982, killed himself in the bombing or caused the attack on Hariri. Seized videos, documents and equipment from his house in Beirut showed Abas was a follower of the radical Wahabi fundamentalist sect of Islam. " (Bloomberg)

"A little known group calling itself "Victory and Jihad in Greater Syria" has claimed responsibility, saying it carried out the suicide operation because of Mr Hariri's ties with Saudi Arabia. Members of the opposition say the claim is simply a subterfuge and have continued to point the finger at Syria, Lebanon's political master. "This is a way to divert attention. Suicide attack or car bomb, these are just means to kill a great man who said it was time to change our relationship with the Syrians," said Walid Jumblatt, leader of the Druze religious sect, an ally of Mr Hariri and a leading opponent of Syria's role in Lebanon." (Financial Times)

More than 24 hours after the murder of Mr Hariri, most of the Lebanese and international communauty put the blame on Syria, even though its responsability may only be "indirect". Meanwhile, the mood in Lebanon looks almost explosive.


New York Times:
Los Angeles Times, CA:,0,2210147.story?coll=la-home-headlines
Guardian, UK:,13031,1415357,00.html
BBC News, UK:
Financial Times, UK:


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