Beirut - A powerful car bomb killed anti-Syrian Lebanese lawmaker Walid Eido and nine other people on Wednesday in an attack his colleagues blamed on Damascus.
A parked Mitsubishi Pajero four wheel vehicle packed with 80 kg (177 lbs) of explosives blew up as Eido's car was driving away from a Beirut beach club, a senior security source said.
One of the parliamentarian's sons and two bodyguards were among the dead. At least 15 people were wounded including the youngest son of Eido .
Eido, 65, belonged to the majority anti-Syrian parliamentary bloc of Saad al-Hariri, which controls the government.
A Sunni Muslim lawyer, he had been a foe of Syrian influence in Lebanon and an ally of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri, who was assassinated by a suicide truck bomber in February 2005.
Eido was killed just three days after a U.N. Security Council resolution came into effect setting up an international tribunal to try suspects in Hariri's assassination.
Saad al-Hariri says Syria was behind his father's killing and later attacks. Damascus denies any involvement. Eido's death brought to seven the number of anti-Syrian politicians and journalists killed in Lebanon since 2005.
"It is the same fingers that assassinated the martyred premier Rafik al-Hariri ... the fingers of evil and its evil agents that plant terror in Lebanon," Hariri said of Eido's killing. "They don't want Lebanon to rest."
There was no immediate comment from Syria. Its allies in Lebanon denounced the assassination.
Condemnation also came from the United States, France, Britain and the European Union.
"We stand with the people of Lebanon and Prime Minister (Fouad) Siniora's government as they battle extremists who are trying to derail Lebanon's march to peace, prosperity and a lasting democracy," said Gordon Johndroe, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.
French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said his country stood by Lebanon "in the face of these repeated attempts at destabilization". He urged the Lebanese to resume dialogue.
The Beirut government declared Thursday, when the funerals were due to take place, a day of national mourning.
"Lebanon and the Lebanese will not submit to terrorism," Siniora said after an emergency cabinet session.
Saniora ordered businesses, banks as well as public and private schools and universities across Lebanon closed to observe this day of mourning.
He also called for an extraordinary meeting of Arab foreign ministers to discuss the Eido's murder.
He said the government was asking the U.N. commission investigating Hariri's assassination to help with the inquiry into Eido's killing and add it to the tribunal's work.
"BIG, UGLY CLOUD"
The blast, near a seafront amusement park and a football club, set a car ablaze and shattered windows of nearby buildings. It hurled the bodies of Eido and his son over a wall and into the football ground, witnesses said.
Two players in the Nejmeh football team, which is in Lebanon's top league, were among those killed.
"It sounded like it was in your backyard," said Herbert Lahout, 45, a U.S. citizen who had been playing volleyball on a nearby beach. "It was like a mushroom cloud, a big ugly cloud."
Five less powerful bombs have exploded in and around Beirut in the past month, killing two people.
Eido's death was likely to fuel tension between Siniora's Western-backed government and the pro-Damascus opposition led by the Shi'ite Muslim Hezbollah group.
Parliament member Wael Abou-Faour said Eido had been killed "because there is a decision by the Syrian regime to terminate the March 14 bloc", referring to the Hariri-led coalition.
Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri, a Shi'ite opponent of the government, condemned the killing, as did Hezbollah and Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun.
Tension was already high in Lebanon, where the army has been battling al Qaeda-inspired Islamist militants at a Palestinian refugee camp in the north for more than three weeks.
Two Lebanese soldiers were killed in fresh fighting at the Nahr al-Bared camp on Wednesday, security sources said.
The battle for the camp, Lebanon's bloodiest internal violence since the 1975-1990 civil war, has killed 144 people -- 62 soldiers, 50 militants and 32 civilians -- since May 20.
Picture : Scene of the explosion that resulted in the killing of MP Walid Eido ( picture superimposed ), his eldest son Khaled and 8 others including 2 players from Nejmeh sporting club, Hussein Deqmaq and Hussein Naim. At least 15 people were injured including his youngest son Mazen who was immediately taken to the American University Hospital
Sources: Reuters, Ya Libnan
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