09/17/2005, 00.00
LEBANON
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Car bomb explodes in Beirut: one dead and 30 wounded

by Youssef Hourani

Two days ago, the Central Bank lifted the banking secret from the accounts of eight Lebanese and some Syrians implicated by the inquiry into Hariri's murder.

Beirut (AsiaNews) – One elderly man was killed and some 30 people injured when a car bomb exploded last night in the residential quarter of Achrafieh. The bomb went off around midnight in Jeitawi zone, near the hospital of the Holy Family Sisters (the so-called "Lebanese hospital").

Since the former premier Rafic Hariri was killed in a car bomb attack on 14 February last, the country has been rocked by dozens of attacks especially in Beirut and in eastern Christian areas. Yesterday's was the first attack in a residential area. Observers have highlighted this and other terror attacks in the context of the lead-up to the outcome of the UN inquiry into Hariri's assassination and the possible implication of Syria.

An eye witness admitted to hospital told AsiaNews that around 11pm (local time) he saw two youth putting two suitcases under a parked car. The blast went off soon after he warned residents and the forces of order.

Hassan Sabeh, minister for internal affairs, said that for "these criminals the hour of truth has come and they will pay the price for these violent acts against the country, against God and against mankind".

This morning, the Maronite Patriarch, Nasrallah Sfeir, currently in Saidet el Jabal for the last meeting of the Maronite Synod, expressed his sorrow and condolences for the relatives of the man who was killed. He called on the forces of order to reinforce controls to instill greater confidence in the hearts of Lebanese people.

The bomb went off one day after the Central Bank's decision to lift the banking secret from the accounts of eight Lebanese and some Syrians implicated by the inquiry into Hariri's assassination.

The list includes the Syrian Minister for Internal Affairs, Gen. Ghazi Kanaan, who worked as head of Secret Services in Lebanon as well as his successor, Gen. Rustom Ghazaleh. Among the Lebanese suspects are four heads of the secret services already arrested at the beginning of the month. They are joined by Nasser Qandil, former filo-Syrian MP, the editor-in-chief of newspaper Ad-Diyar,  and Charles Ayub, held to be close to Ghazaleh.

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