Hizb Allah member killed in Beirut blast

Lebanon's Hizb Allah resistance group has blamed Israel for a massive car bomb that killed one of its members in Beirut on Saturday.

    Lebanese gather around the mangled car.

    Hizb Allah called the dead man - whom security sources have

    identified as a Lebanese driver for the Iranian embassy - a

    martyr and one of its "holy warriors", in accounts of the

    bombing on the group's television station.

    "Hizb Allah laments one of its mujahideen," a presenter on

    the al-Manar station said, before reading a statement saying:

    "Hizb Allah mourns Ali Hussein Saleh, who perished in an

    explosion in his car this morning."

    Israel blamed

    The group was quick to point the finger at Israel, saying in

    a statement: "All information available since this morning

    proves beyond a doubt complete Israeli responsibility for this

    heinous crime.

    "This crime will not go unpunished."

    Lebanon's culture minister, Ghazi al-Aridi, said the killing

    was related to Hizb Allah's role in ending Israel's 22-year

    occupation of south Lebanon in 2000.

    "This young man is one of the men who had a main role in

    fighting the Israeli occupation and I think this action was

    deliberately aimed at eliminating him," he told


    Members of Hizb Allah carry away the remains of the driver.


    Witnesses said the blast gouged a gaping hole in the ground,

    propelled the car about 10 metres and blew its driver to

    pieces. A passerby, whom witnesses and security officials

    initially thought had been in the car, was seriously injured,

    security sources said.

    Security forces cordoned off the area and used bags to

    collect the dead man's body parts, which the force of the blast

    had thrown up to the second and third-floor levels of the

    surrounding buildings.

    A senior security official said a bomb in the car ripped it

    apart as its driver drove away from his residence.

    "He started the engine, got going and went about 100 metres,

    then it blew him up. It appears to be a well-planned

    operation," the source said.

    Iran tight-lipped

    Documents retrieved from the car identified the body as that

    of Saleh, a 42-year-old from the town of Brital in Lebanon's

    Bekaa valley, a traditional Hizb Allah power base.

    Security forces strained to hold back crowds milling about

    the mangled wreckage as it was examined by a forensic team.

    The Iranian embassy refused to discuss the incident or its

    ties to the dead man.

    Senior Hizb Allah figures have been the targets of

    assassination attempts before, including the group's former

    leader Abbas al-Musawi who was killed by Israel in 1992. 


    SOURCE: Agencies


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