Hezbollah-led govt blamed for murder of top Lebanese security official

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Timeline of high-profile assassinations in Lebanon since 2005. (Design by Farwa Rizwan/Al Arabiya English)
Timeline of high-profile assassinations in Lebanon since 2005. (Design by Farwa Rizwan/Al Arabiya English)
Murdered Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) chief General Wissam al-Hassan. (AFP)
Murdered Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces (ISF) chief General Wissam al-Hassan. (AFP)
Hariri’s son, Saad al-Hariri, accused Assad of being behind the bombing, while Lebanon’s opposition March 14 bloc called on Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s government, which includes ministers from Hezbollah, to resign over the bombing.

Lebanese ministers will hold an emergency cabinet meeting on Saturday to discuss the bombing.

The meeting is scheduled to get underway at 10:00 a.m. (0700 GMT), said a spokesman for Prime Minister Najib Mikati.

The government, which is dominated by the powerful Shiite movement Hezbollah, has declared Saturday a day of mourning, but the opposition has called for its resignation.

Hezbollah, which is closely allied to Assad’s regime, described the attack as “an attempt to destabilize Lebanon and national unity,” in a statement on its al-Manar television.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned the “acts of terrorism” and called the murder of Hassan “a dangerous sign that there are those who continue to seek to undermine Lebanon’s stability.”

“Lebanon must close the chapter of its past and bring an end to impunity for political assassinations and other politically motivated violence,” Clinton said in a written statement.

The head of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces, Major-General Ashraf Rifi, described Hassan’s death as a “huge blow” and warned that further attacks were likely.

“We’ve lost a central security pillar,” he told Future Television. “Without a doubt, we have more sacrifices coming in the future. We know that, but we will not be broken.”

Rubble and the twisted, burning wreckage of several cars filled the central Beirut street where the bomb exploded, ripping the facades and balconies off buildings.

Firefighters scrambled through the debris and rescue workers carried off the bloodied victims on stretchers. In the confusion following the blast, it took several hours before any official word emerged that Hassan had been targeted.

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