Bomb Blast in Beirut: An Extension of Syria’s War
On Oct. 19, 2012, a large bomb exploded in the heart of Beirut’s Christian section, killing eight people and wounding at least 80, unnerving a nation as neighboring Syria’s sectarian-fueled civil war spills beyond its borders and threatens to engulf the region. The blast also killed a top security official, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, long viewed as an enemy by Syria. The bomb shattered windows for blocks and spread panic in a city where memories of sectarian violence from Lebanon’s long civil war have been resurrected by the Syria’s conflict. As the intelligence chief of Lebanon’s Internal Security Forces, General Hassan had played a leading role in the arrest of a former information minister, Michel Samaha, who had close ties with the Syrian leadership and was accused of plotting a campaign of bombings and assassinations in Lebanon. Mr. Samaha’s arrest was widely seen as part of Lebanese government efforts to prevent the spread of sectarian mayhem in the country. General Hassan, a Sunni Muslim, also was close to the family of Rafik Hariri, the Sunni former prime minister who was assassinated in a 2005 car bombing in Beirut that Mr. Hariri’s supporters have blamed on Syria and its Lebanese allies. There was no immediate word on who was behind the blast. Politicians pleaded that the country not get dragged into tit-for-tat killings or a return to the sectarian conflict that convulsed this city during the 1975-1991 civil war. Two days after the explosion, thousands of mourners from across Lebanon flocked to a central Beirut square for a funeral service for the victims. As the flag-draped coffins of General Hassan and his bodyguard passed through the crowd gathered in Beirut’s Martyrs’ Square, mourners chanted angry slogans against Syria’s president, Bashar al-Assad, and against Hezbollah, its ally and the dominant force in Lebanon’s coalition government. Many carried the flag of the Syrian rebels, and there were...
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