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VOICE OF AMERICA
SLUG: 2-323456 Lebanon Bombing Update (L)
DATE:
NOTE NUMBER:

DATE=3/23/2005

TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT

TITLE=LEBANON BOMBING UPDATE (L)

NUMBER=2-323456

BYLINE=SONJA PACE

DATELINE=BEIRUT

CONTENT=

VOICED AT:

/// UPDATES CR 2-323446 TO CHANGE DEATH TOLL IN HEADLINE AND INTRO; NO OTHER CHANGES ///

HEADLINE: Bomb Blast Near Beirut Kills Three People, Injures Several

INTRO: A bomb blast in a predominantly Christian area north of Beirut has killed three people and injured several others. As VOA's Sonja Pace reports from the Lebanese capital, the blast was the second in five days and is heightening fears in an already politically charged atmosphere.

TEXT: The blast occurred in the early morning hours, Wednesday, in a shopping center in the area of Kaslik, some 20 kilometers north of Beirut.

// OPT // The two dead were identified and Indian and Pakistani nationals. The wounded included Sri Lankans as well as Lebanese. //END OPT //

It was the second bomb blast in less than a week. Early Saturday, a bomb exploded in the mostly Christian Beirut suburb, Jedeydeh, injuring 11 people and damaging homes and shops in the area.

No one has claimed responsibility for either blast, but many Lebanese suspect a political motive.

Lebanese Christian opposition lawmaker Samir Franjieh told VOA the bombings were designed to sow fear and sectarian tensions and as a warning to the opposition and and to those calling for neighboring Syria to withdraw its troops from Lebanon.

/// FRANJIEH ACTUALITY ///

"To say to the Lebanese people - look, when the Syrians decide to withdraw the risk of war is coming and so we have to change our position and accept this Syrian presence."

/// END ACTUALITY ///

Mr. Franjieh says he and other opposition politicians have received warnings and thinly veiled threats because of their stand. But, he says this will not change the opposition attitude.

/// 2ND FRANJIEH ACT ///

"But, it's a very dirty way to deal with what's happening."

/// END ACT ///

Lebanon has been in political turmoil since the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in a massive explosion in Beirut over a month ago.

Many Lebanese blame Syria and Lebanon's pro-Syrian government for involvement, but both authorities deny those accusations. Mr. Hariri's death sparked massive anti-government and anti-Syrian demonstrations. Those, and along with growing international pressure, have led to at least a partial withdrawal of Syrian troops from the country. (SIGNED)

NEB/SP/WD



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