Witnesses and security sources said George Hawi, former leader of the Lebanese Communist Party, died instantly in the blast in the Wata Musaitbi neighborhood of Beirut.
Witness Rami Abu Dargham said “The car kept going and we then saw the driver screaming and he jumped out of the window. We rushed to the car and saw Hawi in the passenger seat with his guts out.”
The bomb was apparently placed under the passenger seat of Mr Hawi’s Mercedes car and was detonated by remote-control, security sources said. The driver apparently escaped serious injuries.
It was the second killing of an anti-Syrian figure in Beirut this month. Newspaper columnist Samir Kassir was killed on June 2 when an explosion destroyed his car.
Mr Hawi’s killing came two days after the end of Lebanon’s parliamentary elections which were won by an anti-Syrian alliance led by Saad al-Hariri, son of a former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri who was killed in a truck bomb last February.
“We are stunned,” Prime Minister Najib Mikati told reporters. “With every achievement by the Lebanese state, we see that there are those who want to target security and send messages of this sort.”
Justice Minister Khaled Kabbani, rushed to the scene along with members of the victorious opposition alliance.
“It’s an attempt to hit unity and national reconciliation after the holding
of free and democratic elections but we will not retreat,” the minister told
reporters at the scene.
The blast came after a three-week respite in a spate of bombings that has
hit Beirut, most notably the February 14 attack that killed Rafiq Hariri, a
billionaire five-time prime minister.
His killing plunged Lebanon into political turmoil but ultimately forced
the withdrawal of Syrian troops in April after a near three-decade military
Saad Hariri’s alliance swept all 28 seats in Sunday’s decisive final round
of the four-stage elections, ushering in the first legislature not controlled
by pro-Damascus factions since the end of the 1975-90 civil war.