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Lebanon To Bury Slain Intelligence Official

October 21, 2012

Lebanon is burying a top intelligence official killed in a bomb attack in Beirut on October 19, blamed by many in Lebanon on Syria.

General Wissam al-Hassan was one of eight people killed in the attack. Some 80 were wounded.

On October 20, Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati linked the bombing to Hassan's investigation this summer that uncovered what authorities called a plot by Syria to provoke chaos in Lebanon with bombings and assassinations.

Mikati, under intense political pressure over the killing, said he would stay on after the president said it would be in the national interest.

Former prime minister Saad al-Hariri urged all of Lebanon to attend the funeral for Hassan on October 21 as opposition parties called for a mass turnout at the event.

''He is a medal on the chest of Beirut where he lived along with Hariri and he protected it with his lashes till the day he shut his eyes and tomorrow he is going to be sleeping next to Hariri in Martyrs Square. Each one of you is called upon personally to attend the prayers for Hassan's soul because with your attendance you confirm that he indeed is a trophy for all of Lebanon,'' Hariri told Lebanese TV.

Analysts say Hassan was close to the powerful Hariri political clan. His death has sparked anger among Lebanon's Sunnis.

On October 20, protesters blocked roads with burning tires and gunmen took to the streets of Beirut and Tripoli.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon spoke with President Michel Suleiman and stressed the importance of "dissociating the country from regional events" and in Lebanon's sovereignty.

The Syrian unrest has already inflamed tensions in Lebanon.

Many of Lebanon's Sunni Muslims have backed Syria's mainly Sunni
rebels, while Shiite Muslims have generally supported President Bashir Assad.

Based on AP, AFP and Reuters reporting

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/lebanon/24745921.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.



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