Beirut: Anti-Syrian MP assassinated
Christian MP Antoine Ghanem was assassinated by a powerful bomb that targeted his car in east Beirut’s Sin el-Feel suburb. Eight other people were killed and at least 47 wounded in the attack which was reported Wednesday afternnon.
Ghanem, 64, was a member of the right-wing and anti-Syrian Christian Phalange Party. Ghanem returned to Beirut from safe haven in Abu Dhabi just two days ago.
A 40-kilogram strong car bomb explosion shattered Ghanem's black Chevrolet Sedan as it drove in the suburb.
The attack occurred six days before Parliament was scheduled to meet to elect a new president. Ghanem is the eighth prominent anti-Syrian figure assassinated since 2005, including three lawmakers from the majority, reducing the ruling party's margin in Parliament.
The assassination was widely condemned by the various factions and blamed by the March 14 majority alliance on Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime. Prominent MP Saad Hariri, leader of the Moustaqbal Movement, blamed the killing on the "cowardly" Assad regime which "retaliated by killing Lebanese after Israeli jet fighters raided Syria."
"I haven't in my life known a more cowardly regime than that of Bashar Assad," Hariri told reporters. He said the "enemies of Lebanon killed Antoine Ghanem today because they want to prevent the presidential elections … they want to kill Lebanon." "We will not permit the criminals to kill Lebanon.. The presidential elections will be held … the presidency belongs to the Lebanese people," Hariri vowed.