The motive behind Wail Hammud's killing on Friday morning was unclear, but it marked the first known act of violence involving a Lebanese citizen in Syria since Syrian soldiers recently began their controversial withdrawal from Lebanon.

Some residents of the man's hometown of Majdal Anjar speculated the incident may have been smuggling-related.

Hammud was killed shortly after midnight in Syria's Failaq area, a few hundred metres from the Syrian border point of Jdaidat Yabus. It is a 10-minute drive away from Lebanon's Masnaa border post on the Beirut-Damascus road.

Many of the hundreds of thousands of Syrian workers in Lebanon have returned home amid attacks against them and
anti-Syrian sentiment following the 14 February assassination
of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.

Attacks on Syrians

A Syrian worker was stabbed to death in Beirut a few weeks ago in what was the only known fatality. Others, have been beaten up and their tents and shacks destroyed. There has also been a sharp drop in traffic between the two countries' capitals.

Shaikh Hasan Nasr Allah, leader of Lebanon's pro-Syrian Hizb Allah group, said recently that 20 to 30 Syrians were killed in Lebanon, but Lebanese officials dismissed his claims. Syrian officials did not confirm the report.

The Lebanese officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hammud had entered Syria from Lebanon when he was shot. It was unclear if he had passengers.

Hammud's body was taken to a Damascus hospital and Lebanese officials have contacted Syrian authorities to retrieve it.

An official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said Hammud's Mercedes car was near the Failaq military barracks, where Syrian troops withdrawing from Lebanon have been gathering.

Syrian officials had no immediate comment.