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Lebanese minister Marwan Hamade wounded in Beirut blast

By Daily Star Online edition staff

Friday, October 01, 2004


BEIRUT : Former Lebanese Cabinet minister Marwan Hamade who resigned recently in a dispute over Syria's domination of the country, was wounded Friday when his car was targeted by a bomb in Beirut, a source at the American University of Beirut hospital said.

Outgoing Economy and Trade Minister Marwan Hamadeh's driver was killed and his bodyguard wounded in the blast, which occurred on the Mediterranean seafront of the Lebanese capital. Hamadeh was "lightly wounded in the face and hands following the explosion of a bomb placed under his car," the hospital source said.

The dead driver was identified as Ghazi Bou Karoum, while the unnamed bodyguard was said not to have life-threatening injuries. Hamadeh is one of four ministers who quit on September 6 in protest at a controversial Syrian-inspired constitutional amendment that kept Damascus protege President Emile Lahoud in power for another three years.

He and two of the others belong to the secular leftist faction of Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

On September 1, Lebanese MPs bowed to Syrian pressure to change the constitution to allow Lahoud to remain in office beyond his original six-year term. That move came despite a UN Security Council resolution adopted a day earlier backing Lebanon's sovereignty and implicitly censuring Damascus by demanding that all foreign troops be withdrawn from Lebanon.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan is expected to report to the Security Council Friday on any steps taken to implement Resolution 1559. On Wednesday, Syria wrapped up a limited troop pullout, with about 3,000 soldiers have returned home from their posts on the southern outskirts of Beirut. The pullout leaves about 15,000 Syrian troops on Lebanese soil, down from a peak of between 35,000 and 40,000 during the Lebanese civil war, but fails to meet UN demands for a complete withdrawal. Syria, already under US sanctions for allegedly supporting terrorism, has faced intense international pressure to end its political and military domination of Lebanon.