Lebanon probes killing of army general

A military investigation on Thursday probed the car bombing that killed a candidate to become head of the army.

Lebanon probes killing of army general
Brig. Gen. Francois Hajj and his driver were killed Wednesday minutes after he left his home on the way to work. At 7:10 a.m., a parked car packed with 77 pounds of TNT exploded, triggered by remote control, as Hajj's SUV passed by.

The bombing left a crater 6 feet wide and 3 feet deep on a busy street with school buses and morning commuters in Baabda, a mainly Christian suburb of Beirut where the presidential palace is located and where army presence is heavy.

Military Prosecutor Rashid Mizher said that security forces were searching for the owner of the explosives-laden car but has made no arrests yet.

With no claim of responsibility, there was widespread speculation over the motive for the attack, which comes as feuding politicians remain deadlocked in a crisis over electing the next president.

Security officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity in line with government regulations, said Thursday that the military investigation was concentrating on more than one scenario or motive for the attack.

The military's role in Lebanon is particularly important because of fears that the power vacuum could lead to violence. The failure to elect a president since September has embroiled Lebanon in its worst political crisis since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.

Suleiman has emerged as a possible consensus candidate for the presidency left vacant since President Emile Lahoud stepped down on Nov. 23, though his election has been held up by continued political wrangling.

The military refrained from placing blame for Hajj's death, saying only that a "criminal hand" was behind the attack.

Suleiman called on all sides "not to use the blood of the martyr in politics or in an attempt to cast doubt about the military's abilities."

Lebanon's military has remained on good terms with the Syrians and has largely acted with impartiality in Lebanon's bitter political power struggle between allies and opponents of Damascus, winning it the respect of both camps.

Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said Wednesday attackers wanted to undermine the army. "I am confident their goals will fail and the army's morale will remain high," he told a meeting of security chiefs.


Güncelleme Tarihi: 13 Aralık 2007, 14:33