Anti-Syrian Lawmaker Killed in Beirut Blast
Thursday, June 14, 2007
BEIRUT, June 13 -- A powerful car bomb tore through a stretch of Beirut's popular seafront Wednesday, killing an outspoken anti-Syrian lawmaker, his son and eight other people in the third assassination of a parliament member in less than two years.
"By the grace of God," a weathered plaque in sloping Arabic script, a few feet from the explosion, read with a sense of fatalism.
The killing of Walid Eido, 65, further tested the fragility of a Lebanese government mired in a months-long confrontation with its opposition, a protracted battle with Islamic militants in a Palestinian refugee camp and a deepening crisis over the selection of a new president this fall. Weeks of morbid anticipation had preceded Wednesday's bombing, with traffic sparse in Beirut's streets after sunset and many residents opting to stay home at night.
Almost immediately after the explosion, figures from across the political spectrum here denounced the bombing. The Shiite Muslim movement Hezbollah, the opposition's leading faction, said the attack was "targeting Lebanon and its stability."
As in the past, anti-Syrian lawmakers cast the assassination as another episode in their confrontation with Damascus, saying Syrian authorities were trying to deprive the Lebanese parliament of its anti-Syrian majority through methodical killings.
"We're all targeted," said lawmaker Jawad Boulos. "It's no coincidence these people are being assassinated."
The bomb, weighing as much as 175 pounds, was concealed in a parked car and exploded in late afternoon beneath a bluff of white and pink wildflowers as Eido left a sporting club he frequented almost daily.
The blast shattered windows 100 yards away and hurled splintered wreckage of cars and bloodied body parts across the pavement. Rescue workers rushed over the shards of glass, filling the air with what sounded like dissonant chimes. Onlookers milled around the site, some carrying a banner for Eido's party.
Along with Eido and his son, the dead included two bodyguards and six other civilians, including two members of Nejmeh, a Lebanese soccer team. At least 11 people were wounded.
"For a moment, I even forgot my name," said Saif Jabbar, 32, who was around the corner when the bomb detonated.
Jabbar, an Iraqi, said he had left Baghdad nine months ago, drawn to what he called Lebanon's tolerance. "I came here to escape all the explosions and the blasts. I came here for safety, and all these things happen," he said. "Who knows? Maybe I'll go back."
Still visibly shaken an hour after the explosion, he looked out at the street. He shook his head at questions, still unable to hear. Then he shrugged. "You die where it's written that you die. What am I supposed to do?"