BEIRUT, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Lebanese leaders on Friday denounced unanimously the assassination of former Finance Minister Mohammed Shatah in downtown Beirut.
In a press release by his media office, Lebanese President Michel Suleiman said: "the coward crime will only make the Lebanese people more determined to preserve their country."
The president expressed regret that innocent people were also targeted, calling for solidarity "to form a new cabinet that can assume its national responsibilities at this stage."
A heavy explosion rocked Beirut at 9:30 a.m. (0730 GMT) Friday, and targeted the convoy of Shatah, whose body was retrieved from the scene and transferred to the American University of Beirut Medical Center.
The blast that hit the Starco complex area in downtown Beirut killed six people and injured at least 50 others according to caretaker Health Minister Ali Khalil.
Early estimates said around 60 to 75 km of highly combustible elements were used in the explosives.
For his part, Speaker Nabih Berri denounced the crime and said in a statement: "Once again, terrorism hits Lebanon ... through the assassination of Shatah, at a time when political efforts should multiplied to form a cabinet."
He pointed out that the assassination "aims to keep Lebanon under tension," noting: "The crime is a plot to turn Lebanon into a scene for settling scores and an attempt to incite sedition among the country's sects."
Caretaker Prime Minister Najib Miqati said in a statement issued by his press office that "the assassination targeted a moderate figure who believed in dialogue, logic, the voice of reason and the right to have different points of views."
Miqati also condemned all the acts that only lead to further violence and killings, saying "they only inflict farther chaos and damage to the nation."
The caretaker prime minister cut short on Friday his family vacation to return to Lebanon after news of Shatah's assassination broke out.
For his part, Prime Minister-Designate Tammam Salam condemned the assassination, describing it as a "terrorist act that aims to destabilize the country and inciting sedition among its people."
Salam said that the assassination evokes the images of previous blasts that targeted prominent politicians in recent years, warning "Lebanon remains a target of a conspiracy that aims to shake its national unity."
Salam called on security agencies to exert efforts to unveil the culprits and punish them. "Those who carried out this terror crime exploited the fragile security situation and the political paralysis... What happened should prompt the formation a national unity cabinet."
Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri, to whom Shatah was an adviser, lamented that Lebanon lost "a moderate figure who believed in peace and an independent Lebanon."
In a car explosion in Beirut on Friday morning, Mohammed Shatah and four others, including his body guard, were killed and 15 people were injured.
BEIRUT, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- The death toll from the huge explosion in Lebanese capital Beirut rose to 5 killed, including former finance minister Mohammad Shatah, and over 75 others were injured, according to Georges Kettaneh, the operation director of the Lebanese Red Cross.
Kettaneh confirmed to LBCI TV that the Red Cross ambulances transported the bodies of the killed and the injured to the nearby hospitals. Full story
BEIRUT, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Mohammad Shatah, former Lebanese finance minister and adviser to former prime minister Saad Hariri was killed Friday in a booby trapped car explosion while his convoy was passing through downtown Beirut.
A local security source confirmed to Xinhua that Shatah was killed immediately when a Nissan type booby trapped car went off near the Starco complex downtown Beirut at 9:30 a.m. Full story