|VOICE OF AMERICA|
SLUG: 2-325012 Beirut/Bombing (L-O)
HEADLINE: Car Bomb Kills Anti-Syrian Journalist in Beirut
INTRO: A car bomb killed a prominent Lebanese journalist in Beirut Thursday. Lebanese Prime Minister Nagib Mikati condemned the explosion, while anti-Syrian groups blamed remnants of the Syrian intelligence regime for the blast. For VOA, Carrie Giardino reports from Beirut.
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Rescue teams raced to the site of a powerful bomb blast that rocked the Christian suburb of Achrafieh in Beirut Thursday. The blast killed journalist Samir Kassir of the Lebanese daily newspaper, An Nahar.
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According to officials at the scene, Mr. Kassir died instantly, as the bomb exploded when he started the ignition of his car outside his home.
Mr. Kassir is known for speaking out against the Syrians, who occupied Lebanon for more than three decades before they pulled out of the country at the end of April. A spectator at the scene of the blast, Pamela Abinader, says Mr. Kassir was also a teacher.
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"It's my teacher. It's Samir Kassir, that's what they said. Because he was doing research on the Syrians here."
Although a team from the United Nations has confirmed the withdrawal of Syrian troops, there is still a strong belief that Syrian intelligence forces are operating in Lebanon.
A friend of Mr. Kassir, Adib Farha, describes the victim as a "true patriot." Mr. Farha, a political analyst with connections to the opposition parties, says "this is probably a message to Gibran Tueini, the newly elected member of parliament and the publisher of An Nahar, as well as to the opposition in general."
The first round of parliamentary elections were held in Beirut last Sunday and there are three more rounds to go, staggered over the next three Sundays. Beirut's elections saw a clean sweep by an opposition bloc, headed by Saad Hariri, the son of the slain former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Although five bombs have targeted Christian areas around Beirut since March, this is the first one since the bombing of Rafik Hariri to target such a prominent figure. (SIGNED)
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