NICOSIA — The anti-Syrian Industry Minister was assassinated in Beirut yesterday, as the Iran-backed Hizbullah mounted violent demonstrations demanding greater control over the government.
| The mother Joyce Gemayel, left, father Amin Gemayel, center, and wife Patricia Gemayel walk behind the coffin of Pierre Gemayel as it is carried to the family home in Bikfaya, Lebanon on Nov. 22. AP/Ben Curtis
Gemayel, a Maronite Christian and the son of a former president of Lebanon, was the fifth anti-Syrian figure to be
killed since late 2004 in
a campaign said to be directed by Syrian intelligence.
Unidentified gunmen shot and killed Lebanese Industry Minister Pierre
Gemayel in the first major political assassination
since the death of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February 2005.
government of Prime Minister Fuad Siniora blamed Syrian President Bashir
Assad for the assassination on Tuesday.
sources said Hizbullah was said to be facilitating the assassinations in an
attempt to block the establishment of an international tribunal that would
prosecute those behind the Harari assassination.
The assassination, which sparked Christian unrest, took place as
Hizbullah was preparing massive and violent protests against the Siniora
government. The Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah, which coordinates with Syria,
has demanded one-third of the seats in the Lebanese Cabinet.
Hours after the assassination, gunmen fired toward an office of another
Lebanese minister. Nobody was reported injured.
"We believe the hand of Syria is all over the place," said Lebanese
parliamentary faction leader Saad Hariri, the son of the late prime
Over the last few months, the government has launched an effort to
bolster Lebanon's military and security services. The European Union and the
United States have offered Beirut hundreds of millions of dollars in surplus
weapons platforms and training.
"We will not let the murderers control the fate of Lebanon and the future
of its children," Siniora said.
Gemayel, 34, was the son of former President Amin Gemayel, who served
from 1982 to 1988. Officials said Gemayel's convoy was ambushed by two jeeps
in a Christian area of Beirut, and the minister was shot three times in the
Two of Gemayel's bodyguards were also killed in the attack. Lebanese
sources said at least 24 shots were fired by at least two assassins, who
traveled in a jeep that contained forged license plates.
"They [Syrians] might kill another minister," Druse leader and
parliamentarian Walid Jumblatt said. "This is very possible and very
plausible. The only thing Bashar Assad is scared of is an indictment by the