Another anti-Syrian leader targeted for assassination


Colleagues of an anti-Syrian politician in Beirut said he was the target of a failed assassination attempt Thursday, after police found detonators in a Beirut building where he has an office.

Tensions in Lebanon linked to the conflict in neighboring Syria are on the rise and have erupted in deadly street fighting on several occasions in the past weeks.

Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said the two bomb detonators were found Thursday in the elevator of the building where Christian lawmaker Butros Harb has an office in the Badaro district of Beirut.

Police found the detonators after security guards at the building wrestled with a suspicious man wielding a knife. He escaped with accomplices.

The detonators were not attached to an explosive device, and Charbel said investigations were under way to determine the perpetrators and the motive.

Harb’s colleagues in the anti-Syrian coalition known as March 14 said that he was the target of a failed assassination attempt and in response, they called on Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government to resign.

The U.S. Embassy in Lebanon also condemned “in the strongest terms” the apparent assassination attempt targeting Harb, in a statement released through its Twitter account.

There was no immediate comment from the Beirut government.

In April, another Christian anti-Syrian politician, Samir Geagea, escaped an alleged assassination attempt. Snipers fired shots at Geagea at his residence. He said he narrowly escaped when he bent down to pick a flower.

Thursday’s alleged assassination attempt fueled tensions over the conflict in neighboring Syria.

A statement from the March 14 group said Mikati’s government was responsible for the assassination attempts and called for both incidents to be referred to a U.N.-backed international tribunal investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed by a powerful truck bomb in Beirut.

The court has indicted four members of the pro-Syrian Shiite Muslim Hezbollah group which, along with its allies, now holds a majority in Mikati’s Cabinet. Hezbollah denies involvement in Hariri’s killing and has refused to extradite the suspects.

“March 14 assigns Mikati’s government responsibility for the assassination attempts targeting Lebanese leaders and calls for its immediate resignation,” said the statement read by Christian politician Fares Soeid.

Washington Post/AP