Anti-Syrian Lebanese Minister Assassinated
BEIRUT (AFP) - Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel was gunned down in a Beirut suburb, the latest victim in a spate of attacks on anti-Syrian politicians, and angry voices quickly blamed Damascus.
Gemayel, 34, was a scion of one of Lebanon's most prominent Christian families. His death added to tensions in a country where the Syrian-backed movement Hezbollah is maneuvering to bring down a Western-leaning government.
Gunmen also opened fire on the Beirut office of another anti-Syrian figure, state minister for parliamentary affairs Michel Pharaon.
People from across the political spectrum called for calm in a country deeply divided between allies and opponents of former power broker Syria, but angry young men burned tires in Beirut's Christian neighborhood of Ashrafiyeh.
The murder took place on the eve of the anniversary of Lebanon's 1943 independence from France, and celebrations were quickly canceled.