Deadly Blast Sows Fears in Lebanon

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from The Wall Street Journal,

Mohamad Chatah Was an Adviser to Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri.

Flames leap from vehicles at the scene of an explosion in Beirut on Friday. Associated Press

A car bomb killed a prominent politician opposed to Hezbollah, drawing Lebanon deeper into the sectarian morass of Syria’s civil war and harking back to a spate of earlier assassinations blamed on Damascus and its Lebanese allies.

The blast in central Beirut on Friday killed six people including Mohamad Chatah, a moderate aligned with Lebanon’s main Western-leaning political bloc, the Future Movement. The Lebanese Red Cross said 15 people were critically wounded.

During his career, Mr. Chatah had served as finance minister, ambassador to the U.S., and representative to the International Monetary Fund. The 62-year-old also had been an adviser to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and had rallied international support for a United Nations special tribunal investigation into the 2005 assassination of Mr. Hariri’s father, former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri.

Mouin Merhebi, a leading Future Movement lawmaker, said Mr. Chatah’s name was floated for a ministerial appointment in the next government.

The car bomb exploded at about 9:45 a.m. in the upscale downtown area, surrounded by high-rises. A luxury shopping arcade with lavish Christmas decorations is two blocks away.

The attack was the latest violence linked to the war in neighboring Syria, which has deepened political and sectarian divisions in Lebanon. The two countries have long been closely intertwined.

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