Lebanon’s Former PM Urges Mass Turnout for Funeral

Posted October 20th, 2012 at 2:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Lebanon's former Prime Minister Saad Hariri has urged citizens to come out Sunday for the funeral of Wissam al-Hassan, the police intelligence chief who was killed along with seven others in Friday's car bombing.

The former prime minister and opposition leader said Saturday that Hassan had exposed himself to danger to “protect Lebanon from being blown up.”

He urged citizens to refrain from blocking streets when Hassan's funeral procession got underway in Beirut.

Tensions have been high in Lebanon following Friday's massive bombing. Lebanese army tanks deployed along routes in the capital on Saturday, removing tires and rubbish that protesters had dumped to block traffic.

Hariri and opposition leader Walid Jumblatt have both accused Syrian President Bashar al-Assad of being behind the bombing. Prime Minister Najib Mikati's government is supported by the pro-Syrian Hezbollah group.

After an emergency Cabinet session on Saturday, the prime minister said he had offered to resign in the wake of the deadly bombing, but President Michel Suleiman had asked him to stay. Mr. Mikati said he had agreed to stay in the “national interest.”

On Friday, opposition Future Movement secretary general Ahmad Hariri urged the prime minister and the government to resign immediately the bombing, which also left more than 80 people wounded. The secretary general blamed the prime minister for the attack.

Hassan had led an investigation into a recent bomb plot that has resulted in the arrest of a pro-Syrian Lebanese politician. He also led a probe that implicated Syria and Hezbollah in the killing of former prime minister Rafik Hariri.

No one has claimed responsibility for the Friday bombing in Beirut but Lebanese media reports said Hassan was targeted in the attack.

Lebanon has seen a recent increase in violence related to the bloody Syrian civil war that has spilled over the border.