Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Lebanese Politician Assassinated

Another anti-Syrian Lebanese politician has been assassinated:

A bomb rocked a Christian suburb east of the Lebanese capital today, killing an anti-Syrian lawmaker and six other people, security officials said.

Antoine Ghanem is the eighth prominent anti-Syrian figure assassinated since 2005.

Ghanem, 64, a member of the right-wing Christian Phalange Party, was targeted by the bomb, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

The Voice of Lebanon radio station, which is owned by the Phalange party, confirmed Ghanem's death. The identities of the others killed were not immediately known.

The assassinations of anti-Syrian figures began with former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, who was killed in a massive car bombing in February 2005. Syria's opponents in Lebanon have accused Damascus of being behind the killings, a claim Syria denies.

His death sparked massive protests that helped bring an end to Syria's nearly 30-year domination of Lebanon. Damascus was forced to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in 2005, and a government led by anti-Syrian politicians was elected.

Since then, the government of U.S.-backed Prime Minister Fuad Saniora has been locked in a power struggle with the opposition, led by Syria's ally Hezbollah. Government supporters have accused Syria of seeking to end Saniora's slim majority in parliament by killing off lawmakers in his coalition.

After the assassination of Parliament member Walid Eido in June, many majority legislators spent the summer abroad for security reasons. Others who stayed took extra precautions.

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