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Murr escapes deadly bomb attack

LEBANESE defence minister Elias Murr miraculously escaped death last week after a huge bomb cut through his motorcade. The blast killed one person and wounded 13.

LEBANESE defence minister Elias Murr miraculously escaped death last week after a huge bomb cut through his motorcade. The blast killed one person and wounded 13.

The bomb, which ripped through Murr’s convoy in the Christian suburb of Antelias consisted of 200 kilograms of explosives and was detonated by a remote control. It is the first time a pro-Syrian politician has been targeted in recent attacks.

Following minor surgery for slight burns, Murr, the son-in-law of Lebanon’s pro-Syrian president Emile Lahoud, said Lebanon’s culture of “political blame” was behind what he called the “continuation of the string of assassinations targeting the country’s politicians.”

“I believe the accusations we heard during the past months encouraged terrorists to go on with their criminal acts,” explained Murr. “National unity is the only thing that could put an end to such incidents. Exchanging accusations will give terrorist a chance to do whatever they want,” he added.

The attempt on Murr’s life follows the assassination of former premier Rafik Hariri last February and the murders of anti-Syrian figures Samir Kassir and George Hawi last month. Lebanon’s political opposition, which swept to power in recent parliamentary elections, has consistently accused what it calls the ‘Lebanese-Syrian security apparatus’ of being behind the assassinations.

The blast comes while the country’s designate premier Fouad Siniora is still trying to form Lebanon’s first government since Syrian troops pulled out from the country in April. Siniora called the attack a “cowardly act by those who do not want stability to be restored to Lebanon.”

Druze leader and anti-Syrian MP Walid Jumblatt claimed the attack was aimed at “silencing a man who could potentially give incriminating evidence to international investigators still probing the murder of Hariri.” He added that the country was still living “under the former political-security regime.”

However, Free Patriotic Movement leader Michel Aoun was quick to downplay Jumblatt’s comments. “Murr had many enemies. Murr had access to information about movements and terrorist organisations in the country and he was definitely exposed to such an attack,” said Aoun. “There are foreign hands trying to send the country back into the civil war,” he added.

Murr announced last September that he had uncovered an Al Qaeda-linked plot to bomb the Italian and Ukrainian embassies in Beirut. According to Murr, the plot also included a plan to assassinate Western diplomats and attack Lebanese security facilities.

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