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Lebanese lawmaker killed in Beirut blast

Story Highlights

NEW: President Bush reacts to the killing
• Slain lawmaker identified as Walid Eido, foe of Syrian involvement in Lebanon
• Explosion described as assassination; at least nine others also killed
• Blast occurred near military sports club in Beirut seaside neighborhood
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BEIRUT, Lebanon (CNN) -- A member of the Lebanese parliament died in a Beirut bomb blast Wednesday -- the latest anti-Syrian politician to be killed in the country.

Lawmaker Walid Eido, his son, Khalid, and two of his bodyguards were killed, Lebanese media reports said.

Some are calling the attack an assassination and pointing the finger at Syria.

At least six other people died and 11 were wounded in the explosion, believed to be from a car bomb, in the seaside neighborhood of Manara, according to Lebanese security sources.

Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, an outspoken critic of Syria, blamed Eido's killing on Damascus, calling it an attempt to reduce the anti-Syrian majority in the Lebanese government.

"With this bunch of assassins in Damascus, they don't care about international justice," Jumblatt told CNN International. (Watch the destruction that Jumblatt blames on Syria Video)

Eido, a constitutional expert, was a member of a political bloc led by Saad Hariri, the son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, whose assassination two years ago sparked widespread protests that led to the ouster of Syrian forces from Lebanon.

"The hands that assassinated Rafik Hariri and the other freedom martyrs are the same evil hands and the same evil apparatuses that committed this crime today and assassinated Walid Eido," Saad Hariri said.

"They don't want Lebanon to settle down and the government to rise and the military to defend the sovereignty of this country."

President Bush said: "There has been a clear pattern of assassinations and attempted assassinations in Lebanon since October 2004.

"Those working for a sovereign and democratic Lebanon have always been the ones targeted. The victims have always been those who sought an end to Syrian President Assad's interference in Lebanon's internal affairs."

Eido was a vocal supporter of the United Nations tribunal investigating Rafik Hariri's killing. The U.N. Security Council approved the tribunal earlier this month.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued a statement Tuesday calling Eido's killing "a heinous crime aimed at destabilizing Lebanon."

U.N. investigators concluded last year that Hariri's death may be linked to high-ranking Syrian officials. Syria has denied any involvement in the assassination and said the tribunal is a violation of its sovereignty.

Since Hariri's February 2005 killing, several other anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians have been assassinated.

Vehicles engulfed in flames

The impact of Wednesday's blast shattered the windows of nearby buildings, while bystanders sustained injuries from the shrapnel. CNN's Brent Sadler witnessed wounded people being carried out of one building.

The blast happened near a military sports club and a side street that leads to several restaurants. Sadler said two vehicles were engulfed in flames, and the explosion had all the hallmarks of a bombing attack.

Many of the off-duty soldiers, still wearing their workout clothes, rushed to the scene trying to calm people down. Video footage also showed Lebanese forces trying to control the crowds.

As many as six explosions, many in the capital city, have rocked parts of Lebanon over the past month.

Last week, a large explosion struck Zouk Mosbeh, a predominantly Christian neighborhood north of Beirut, killing one person and wounding four.

Sadler said he felt the blast during an interview with a shopkeeper. They were discussing when the next bomb could strike Beirut.

"The Lebanese man I've known for a long, long time said, 'Look, I think one could happen at any moment,' " Sadler said. "He said those very words when that explosion really shook his shop."

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A Lebanese police officer secures the site after an explosion Wednesday killed lawmaker Walid Eido in Beirut.



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