Monday, February 14, 2005

Huge Explosion rocks Beirut, PM Rafik al-Hariri killed

BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- Former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri has been killed in an apparent large-scale bomb attack on his motorcade in Beirut, a bodyguard and officials at the American University of Beirut hospital told CNN.

Reports coming in say that it was an apparent assasination on Hariri's life. Hariri was a strong and legitimate leader who brought Beirut out of an economic downfall, leading the re-construction of Beirut, as well as stopping Syrian politicians' from using Lebanese politicians in their homeland. Hariri was known as the leader who put Lebanon back on the map in the international arena, bringing confidence back to a war-torn Beirut. According to sources, Hariri's death brings economic and political uncertainty in Lebanon, as well as the fear of another civil war with Syria.

Monday's explosion occurred before a backdrop of increasing political tension ahead of parliamentary elections scheduled for May.

Lebanon's pro-Syrian government, which counts on its neighbor for security, has come under fire from the anti-Syrian opposition, which says Lebanon can take care of its own security.

Syria maintains about 16,000 troops in Lebanon, based mainly east of Beirut and in the Bekaa Valley, according to the CIA. The Arab League approved that troop deployment under the Ta'if Accord at the end of the 1975-90 civil war.

After Israel withdrew from southern Lebanon in 2000, the opposition began to demand that Syria withdraw as well. The U.N. Security Council passed a resolution last October calling on Syria to withdraw.

The 15-year civil war mostly pitted Lebanon's ruling conservative Christians against leftist Muslims, with Syria, Israel and Western international forces -- including U.S. Marines -- occasionally taking part.

Speculation is widespread, some top officials from the Arab League stating that it was a terrorist attack in the form of a car bomb, although as of this writing, this has not been confirmed.

For full story, click here: Beirut Explosion

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