Skip to main content

Instability feared in Lebanon after assassination

By the CNN Wire Staff
updated 5:27 AM EDT, Wed October 24, 2012
  • Several groups say Friday's car bombing was aimed to destabilize Lebanon
  • The bomb killed the country's intelligence chief
  • There are calls for the Lebanese Cabinet to step down
  • Authorities reveal that the bomb was placed inside a stolen Toyota

(CNN) -- Lebanese troops were deployed to the streets Tuesday to calm tensions amid mounting fears that last week's deadly car bombing in Beirut could spill into Lebanon and drag the country into Syria's bloody civil war.

At least 100 people, including 31 Syrians, were apprehended in raids in Beirut and the Lebanese port city of Tripoli, the state-run news outlet NNA reported. Fifteen soldiers, including two officers, were slightly wounded during the operations, the NNA said.

"These units are still storming into places where gunmen are hiding in Beirut and Tripoli," the Lebanese Army Command said in a statement.

Lebanese tanks, armored personnel carriers and soldiers have patrolled the two cities in wake of the car bombing that killed the nation's top intelligence chief. On Monday, seven people were killed in unrest in Tripoli in clashes among rivaling groups of Sunnis and Alawites, an offshoot of Shiite Islam, NNA reported.

Friday's bombing killed the nation's intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan, who had criticized the Syrian government for meddling in Lebanon's affairs and blamed Damascus for political assassinations.

See moment of Beirut car bomb explosion
Rage erupts in Beirut
Sectarian violence explodes in Beirut

What you need to know about Lebanon, Syria

The international community is monitoring the situation closely.

Catherine Ashton, the European Union's foreign policy chief, on Tuesday was the latest to express "concern about the stability of Lebanon," following a meeting with the country's prime minister, the state-run news outlet NNA reported.

Prime Minister Najib Mikati, a billionaire supported by Syrian ally Hezbollah, is now facing challenges to his leadership. On Tuesday, lawmaker Khaled Daher said he will call people to the streets if Mikati's Cabinet does not step down.

"We demand this Cabinet step down because it has done nothing but shroud the country in chaos, at all levels, reaching economic bodies," Daher told Orient Radio.

The Cabinet has become a huge burden that has served Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime the most, the lawmaker said.

Who are the key players in the crisis?

Al-Assad's government holds significant influence in Lebanon, and many believe the Syrian leader wants to promote instability in Lebanon to divert attention from the civil war in his own country.

Hezbollah, a powerful political faction in Lebanon backed by Iran and Syria, also released a statement Tuesday saying the assassination was an attempt to create instability.

The bombing was meant to "incite internal strife," Hezbollah Deputy Secretary Gen. Sheikh Naim Qassem said on the group's website. Hezbollah, a Shiite militia, plays a prominent role in Lebanon's government and is branded a terrorist organization by the United States and Israel.

In other developments Tuesday, Lebanon's interior minister said investigators have found that the car bomb was placed inside a stolen Toyota RAV4, a lead that could help the probe.

Meanwhile, Mikati signed a declaration referring al-Hassan's assassination to the nation's Judicial Council.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.