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Lebanese Warn Of Parallels to 1970s Volatility

"There is no way that we can see what is happening here outside the scope of the regional situation," Elie Ferzli, Lebanon's information minister, said at an afternoon news conference. "The country is a victim of a conspiracy. All we can do is contain the situation."

Hariri was to be buried Wednesday in an enormous mosque in the heart of a once war-shattered district of downtown Beirut that Hariri helped rebuild into a pedestrian mall of boutiques, cafes and office buildings. The mosque, still under construction, was funded largely by Hariri's charitable foundation.


A destroyed facade, a large crater and debris mark the site of the bomb blast on Monday in Beirut that killed former prime minister Rafik Hariri and 13 others. (Hussein Malla -- AP)

_____Live Discussion_____
Transcript: Washington Post diplomatic correspondent Nora Boustany on the political situation in Lebanon.
_____From Beirut_____
Photo Gallery: Thousands marched through Beirut to mourn the loss of Lebanon's former prime minister Rafiq Hariri.
Video: Hariri's funeral becomes an anti-Syria rally in the streets of Beirut.
Video: Scene from downtown Beirut immediately following the blast.

Hariri's family turned Koreitem Palace, his downtown mansion, into an open house for much of the day. Foreign delegations arrived to pay tribute, including one led by Syria's vice president, Abdul Halim Khaddam, who called the assassination an "earthquake" that would shake Lebanon and Syria.

"I hear my father worry now that civil war is coming back," said Mohammed Hariri, 22, a second cousin of Rafiq Hariri who is studying for a master's degree in administration at the American University of Beirut. "I don't know what's going to happen, I really don't know."

Soldiers cordoned off the crater left by the bomb as investigators picked through debris at the scene of the attack, which became a focal point of popular dismay and grief. Throughout the crisp winter day, hundreds of Lebanese gathered along the police tape to see for themselves what television had broadcast a day earlier.

"They will never find out who did this, because the big things in our country we never know," said Dalal Zaatari, 50, who lives in the capital's Zarif neighborhood. "They took the king of this country. This government is nothing."

Her eyes puffy behind sunglasses, Zaatari said she was reminded of the civil war as she looked over the smashed cars and soldiers toiling in the crater.

"It's now the start of 1975," she said.


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