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(The Washington Times) – A bomb killed a prominent anti-Syrian journalist in Beirut yesterday, sparking fears that the end of Syria ‘s occupation will thrust Lebanon into a new period of violence. Samir Kassir, a columnist with the staunchly anti-government An-Nahar newspaper, was torn in half by a bomb placed under the seat of his car that detonated when he started the vehicle about midday, according to Lebanese police and witnesses. The bomb set the car afire and shattered windows in nearby buildings. Colleagues wept as police sealed off the area. Mr. Kassir, a 45-year-old Christian, was an academic and founding member of the Democratic Left Movement, a small group that joined the anti-Syrian opposition and played an active role in the protest campaign against Damascus ‘ control.
“Every time Lebanon takes a step forward, there are those who want to undermine this country,” caretaker Prime Minister Najib Mikati said during a visit to the scene.
“We will not allow anyone to target security and freedom,” Mr. Mikati said.
The killing comes amid Lebanon ‘s first elections in nearly 30 years without the presence of Syrian troops. Parliamentary elections run through the end of the month and are expected to produce a parliament hostile to President Emile Lahoud, who is pro-Syrian. Syria occupied Lebanon for 29 years and was forced to withdraw its 14,000 troops and most intelligence agents in April after widespread protests sparked by the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.