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Anger Erupts As Lebanese Cabinet Holds Emergency Session After Bombing

A car burns at the site of the deadly explosion in Beirut on October 19 that killed eight people.
A car burns at the site of the deadly explosion in Beirut on October 19 that killed eight people.
By RFE/RL
Lebanon's cabinet has held an emergency session as demonstrators blocked roads with burning tyres to protest a bombing in Beirut that killed a senior intelligence official and seven others.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati said he had offered the resignation of his cabinet but that President Michel Suleiman had asked him to stay on for a "period of time."

''I expressed to the president all my concerns in light of what is happening in the country and I confirmed to him that I am not holding on to the position of prime minister and that it is essential to look into the formation of a new government," Mikati said. "The president said we should look at the things that guarantee the national interest [and] safeguard Lebanon from entering into a void and going into the unknown. He said that things should be considered calmly and that we should see how the situation unfolds.''

The opposition has accused the regime of President Bashar al-Assad in neighboring Syria of being behind the bombing.

Brigadier-General Wissam al-Hassan, who was killed in the deadly bomb attack on October 19, was a prominent critic of Assad's regime.

Syria has for years played a major role in Lebanese politics. Syrian troops occupied parts of the country during the 1975-1990 civil war, and they remained in Lebanon until 2005.

Al-Hassan had led the investigation that implicated Syria and Lebanon's Hizballah militant Shi'ite faction in the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, a Sunni, in 2005.

He also led an investigation that recently led to the arrest of a former minister accused of planning a Syrian-sponsored bombing campaign in Lebanon.

The anti-Syrian opposition has called for the resignation of the government over the bombing on October 19.

The bombing also drew condemnation from abroad, with the U.S. State Department calling it an "act of terrorism."

Syrian officials said al-Hassan is to be buried on October 21 alongside Hariri's grave in Beirut.

Opposition leader and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Rafik Hariri's son, called on all Lebanese to attend al-Hassan's funeral.

With reporting by Reuters, AP, and AFP

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