Ex-minister Mohamad Chatah to be buried

Preparations are under way in Lebanon for the funeral of former minister and opposition figure Mohamad Chatah, who was killed by a car bomb on Friday.

He will be buried in the capital Beirut, where the attack took place.

Mr Chatah, a Sunni Muslim, was a staunch critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon’s Shia Hezbollah movement that backs him.

Lebanon has been hit by a wave of attacks linked to heightened Sunni-Shia tensions over the Syrian war.

Mr Chatah’s killing deprives his political camp of a key strategist. It also sends a powerful, bloody message to Mr Hariri and the anti-Assad camp in Lebanon”

No-one has claimed responsibility for Friday’s bombing, which killed four people and injured at least 50 others.

Correspondents say Mr Chatah, who served as an adviser to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was seen as a moderate in the polarised country.

‘Heinous crime’

Mr Chatah will be buried by a mosque on the edge of Martyr’s Square near Mr Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, himself killed in a massive car bomb in 2005.

Mr Chatah’s allies, who include Christians and Muslims, have called for a big funeral turnout as a political statement, the BBC’s Kim Ghattas in Beirut reports.

Saad Hariri implicitly accused Hezbollah of carrying out the bombing.

He blamed “those who are hiding from international justice and who have spread the regional fire to the [Lebanese] nation”.

Hezbollah rejected the accusation, calling the bombing a “heinous crime, which comes in the context of a series of crimes and explosions aimed at sabotaging the country”.

Syria also denied any involvement in the attack.

Mr Chatah was on his way to a meeting of the anti-Syrian March 14 bloc, led by Saad Hariri, when his convoy was hit.

The bomb went off at 09:00 (07:00 GMT) between the Starco Centre and Phoenicia Hotel, not far from the Lebanese parliament building.

The blast damaged several buildings and set several cars ablaze.

A 16-year-old who died in the attack will also be buried in Beirut on Sunday.



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