Lebanese P.M. may quit after car bombing

Oct. 20, 2012 at 8:11 AM
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BEIRUT, Lebanon, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati has reportedly offered to resign after a Beirut car bomb killed a top intelligence official and wounded dozens of others.

Lebanese opposition leaders say they hold Mikati "personally responsible" for Friday's blast, while supporters say his resignation would "plunge the country into the unknown," The (Beirut) Daily Star reported Saturday.

Gen. Wissam al-Hasan, the head of Lebanon's internal intelligence service, died in a massive car bombing that killed eight people, ripped balconies off buildings and wounded 110 people.

"The government's resignation would throw the country into the unknown and is not a solution but would only escalate the problem," State Minister Mohammad Fneish told journalists Saturday in response to unconfirmed reports that Mikati had already tendered his resignation.

Fneish, a Hezbollah official, commented as he prepared to attend a Cabinet meeting called to discuss al-Hasan's assassination, the first car bombing in Lebanon since 2008.

In a statement, the opposition March 14 coalition said it held Mikati "personally responsible for [al-]Hasan's blood and the blood of innocent people."

The coalition called for the Lebanese government to resign, charging it protected "criminals," the BBC reported.

Speaking on Lebanese television, March 14 coalition leader Said Hariri accused Syrian President Bashar Assad of being behind al-Hasan's assassination.

Nadim Gemayel, a Parliament member from the right-wing Christian Phalange Party, concurred. He charged the "crumbling" Syrian government "is trying to export its conflict to Lebanon.

A Syrian official condemned the assassination.

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