Lebanese security official killed in Beirut attack; Prime Minister Mikati suspends decision to resign; Police, protesters clash following bombing
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  • According to reports, the head of the Lebanese police Information Branch, Maj. Gen. Wissam Hasan, was killed on October 19 in a car bomb in Beirut, along with seven others. The blast is the first such attack in Beirut since 2008. Hasan was opposed to Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad. The Information Branch he headed had recently uncovered a bomb plot involving a top Syrian official and a former Lebanese minister seen as being close to President Assad. Leaders of the opposition March 14 movement, the Progressive Socialist Party and former Prime Minister Saad Hariri1 have accused the Syrian president for the attack. Syria has condemned the attack. Lebanon has increasingly been affected by the repercussions of the Syrian conflict over the past few months.2

    In another development, according to reports, Prime Minister Najib Mikati has suspended his decision to resign following the bombing that killed Hasan, until President Michel Sleiman finalises consultations with the National Dialogue Committee on the matter. Mikati was advised by Sleiman not to resign while the country faced this crisis. Mikati has said his decision was influenced by perceptions that the Lebanese Sunni community (to which Mikati belongs) was being targeted.3

    In other developments, reports noted that protests took place following the attack with tensions running high particularly in the north of the country where Hasan hailed from.4 Thousands of people gathered at Martyr’s Square where Hasan was buried, and at the premier’s office calling on the government to quit.5 Hariri, who is also the head of the Future Movement, urged his supporters to end the violence.6 The Lebanese Army was deployed in areas of Beirut following the start of the protests and has issued warnings to armed men to withdraw from the streets or face arrest.7