Explosion in Lebanon kills top military general

A large explosion rocked a suburb east of Beirut early Wednesday, killing a top military general and three other people.

Explosion in Lebanon kills top military general

A large explosion rocked a Christian suburb east of Beirut early Wednesday, killing a top military general and three other people, the state-run news agency said.

Brig. Gen. Francois Hajj, head of military operations in the army command, was killed in the explosion along with his bodyguard. Hajj had been mentioned as a strong candidate to succeed army commander Michel Suleiman if he is elected president.

"This morning, the criminal hand targeted head of army operations Brig. Gen. Francois Hajj with a bomb as he drove in his car opposite Baabda municipality, which led to his death along with a number of soldiers, and wounded others," the army command said in a statement.

"The army sealed off the area and has started investigating," it added.

The explosion came as Lebanon is embroiled in its worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-90 civil war and amid heightened tensions between pro-government and opposition groups.

The country has been without a president since Nov. 23 when Emile Lahoud left office and a deadlocked parliament failed to elect a successor.

The explosion occurred at 7:10 a.m. (12:10 a.m. EST) as school buses and people were setting off for work Wednesday.

Security officials said Hajj, who lives in the area, had left his home few minutes earlier, probably heading to the nearby Defense Ministry, when the blast detonated near his car, killing him and his bodyguard immediately.

It was not immediately clear whether the bomb was packed inside a car or placed on the road itself, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in keeping with military rules.

The blast wrecked cars and caused heavy damage in the area, which also houses foreign embassies. Two bodies were thrown about 15 yards by the force of the explosion. Troops sealed off the area as firefighters tried to put out the flames in at least two cars. The road was blacked with the soot as black smoke covered the area.

It was the first time the military has been targeted in a bombing in recent months. The military has managed to keep the peace amid the serious political crisis in recent months.

Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 12 Aralık 2007, 12:51
YORUM EKLE