Beirut car bomb kills top terrorism investigator

Associated Press
Published January 26, 2008

BEIRUT, Lebanon - A car bomb Friday killed one of Lebanon's top terrorism investigators who was investigating assassinations of prominent anti-Syrian figures and a series of other attacks in recent years.

Capt. Wissam Eid, 31, worked for the police intelligence agency that is closely tied to the Western-backed government and had survived two previous assassination attempts. The attack also killed his bodyguard and three passers-by and wounded 37 people, police said.

The bombing set a dozen vehicles ablaze and ripped a crater in the asphalt 12 feet wide and 6 feet deep. It shattered windows hundreds of feet away and knocked motorcyclists off roads.

Lebanon is deeply and bitterly divided along pro- and anti-Syrian lines. A prolonged crisis has left the country without a president since Nov. 23 because the two camps cannot agree on a candidate or the makeup of a future government.

Since 2005, the country has seen a series of bombings, including the assassinations of eight prominent anti-Syrian figures.

As a senior officer in the intelligence department, Eid had handled "very important" files including "all those having to do with the terrorist bombings," said the national police chief, Brig. Gen. Ashraf Rif.

Interior Minister Hassan Sabei said Eid had survived two other assassination attempts, including a bomb targeting his house, Sabei told LBC television.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was asked whether she saw Syrian involvement in Eid's killing, and said "it's far too early to know who might have been behind it, but we've seen this sort of thing before."

Syria has been fingered in many of Lebanon's recent bombings, including that of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in 2005. Islamic militants also were suspected in some of the explosions.

Syria denied any role in the bombings. It condemned Eid's killing.