The assassination of a prominent Lebanese politician Friday in a bombing in downtown Beirut shattered the illusion that Syria’s tiny neighbor can avoid the brutal violence on the other side of the border as its deeply divided political system continues to take sides in Syria’s conflict.
Mohammed Chatah, a former finance minister and ambassador to the United States, was killed along with his bodyguard and at least four passers-by when a bomb targeted his convoy as he left a meeting of prominent pro-Syrian-rebel politicians in downtown Beirut.
The explosion was the first of its kind to strike Beirut’s ritzy downtown since the 2005 car bombing assassination of Chatah’s close friend and political ally, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, and 21 other people. Friday’s blast destroyed several storefronts, blew out windows in exclusive condominiums and luxury hotels and set nearly a dozen cars ablaze after it exploded just before 10 a.m. local time.
The bomb rattled windows throughout the city, which has been on edge since two bombs struck the Hezbollah-controlled southern suburbs earlier this year.