Thousands gather for Beirut funeral of slain security chief

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(Photo courtesy Al Arabiya)
(Photo courtesy Al Arabiya)

Sectarian tensions

(Photo courtesy Al Arabiya)
(Photo courtesy Al Arabiya)

Lebanon “combustible”

(Photo courtesy Al Arabiya)
(Photo courtesy Al Arabiya)
Prime Minister Mikati said on Saturday he wanted to resign to make way for a “consensus government” but had accepted a request by President Michel Suleiman to stay in office to allow time for talks on a way out of the political crisis.

“The situation is fragile. I don't know if this is the first in a series of attacks - history would suggest it is,” a Western diplomat said, referring to a wave of assassinations in Lebanon following the 2005 killing of Rafik Hariri.

“Of all the people to go for, Hassan was the most dangerous target in terms of hitting Lebanon's stability.”

Mikati said he suspected Hassan's assassination was linked to his role in uncovering Syrian involvement in the bomb plot.

“I cannot separate in any way the crime that took place yesterday and the discovery of the conspiracy against Lebanon in August,” he said.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius also pointed to a Damascus connection. “We don't yet know exactly who is behind this but everything indicates that this is an extension of the Syrian tragedy,” he told French television.

“I think this is a part of what is happening in Syria and shows again how the departure of Bashar al-Assad is urgent.”

In the northern city of Tripoli, four people were wounded on Saturday by sniper fire on Jebel Mohsen, a neighbourhood which is home to members of the Alawite faith. A pro-Hezbollah religious figure was killed in clashes in Tripoli on Friday, residents said.

Lebanese soldiers opened fire on a group who took over a road in the Bekaa Valley, wounding two people, witnesses said. Rallies were also held in the southern town of Sidon.

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