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Car bomb kills opposition member east of Beirut

Latest update : 2008-09-16

A car bombing east of the Lebanese capital Beirut killed Saleh Aridi, a Druze politician from a pro-Syrian faction. The attack came as Lebanon's political parties prepare for a national dialogue next week aimed at reconciling their differences.

A Druze politician and member of the opposition Democratic Party was killed Wednesday after a car bomb exploded in the village of Baysour, east of the capital Beirut. The victim, Saleh Aridi, was a close adviser to Lebanon’s Minister for Sport, Talal Arslane, a leading figure in the pro-Syrian opposition. Aridi had played a key part in Arslane’s rapprochement with the other leader of the Druze community and senior member of the parliamentary majority, Walid Joumblatt.

Aridi is the first high-profile Lebanese opposition figure to be killed since the start of a wave of bomb attacks in October 2004. His is also the first targeted assassination since Jan. 25 of this year, when a blast killed Wissam Eid, an intelligence officer for the Internal Security Forces. On Aug. 13, a bomb exploded in Tripoli, the country’s second-largest city, leaving 14 dead, including ten soldiers.

The assassination comes one day after Lebanese President Michel Sleiman summoned the country’s rival factions to restart national unity talks on Sept. 16, following a two-year interruption. Aridi’s killing also follows the signature of an agreement designed to halt the sectarian clashes that have rocked Tripoli, pitting the Alaouite community against the Sunni partisans of Saad Hariri’s Future Movement. As media close to the parliamentary majority point out, the assassination marks a harsh return to reality after two days of hope for national dialogue and reconciliation.  

Date created : 2008-09-10