July 12, 2005

Lebanon blast kills 2, wounds defense minister

BEIRUT (Reuters) - A powerful bomb blast wounded pro-Syrian
caretaker Defense Minister Elias Al-Murr and killed two people
north of Beirut on Tuesday, security officials said.

The bomb targeted Murr's motorcade in the busy Christian
suburb of Antelias. Security officials said 12 people were also
wounded in the explosion, audible for several km (miles).

LBC television station said one of Murr's aides was badly
wounded in the attack.

Television pictures showed the smoldering wreckage of
several cars almost totally destroyed in the blast. Blood
stained the street and building facades were ripped off.

It was the latest in a series of bombings and
assassinations in Lebanon since the Feb. 14 killing of former
Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri in a Beirut car bomb blast.

The latest explosion occurred as Prime Minister-designate
Fouad Siniora was trying to form Lebanon's first government
since Syrian troops withdrew from the country in April.

Although Murr is regarded as pro-Syrian, his father has
forged a political alliance with Michel Aoun, a Christian
former general who returned in May after 14 years of forced
exile for leading a revolt against the Syrian military

Aoun and his supporters won 21 seats in Lebanon's recent
parliamentary election, the first since the Syrian pullout.