U.N. Council okays probe into Lebanon bus bombings

UNITED NATIONS Thu Feb 15, 2007 3:39pm EST

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. Security Council approved on Thursday a probe into two recent bus bombings in Lebanon to be conducted by the U.N. commission investigating the murder of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.

Lebanon's Prime Minister Fouad Siniora had requested assistance from the inquiry group, which is probing a series of political killings of anti-Syrian figures.

Despite misgivings that the commission, led by Serge Brammertz, a Belgian prosecutor, had its hands full, the council decided to assist Lebanon "to bring to justice perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of this terrorist attack," said Ambassador Peter Burian of Slovakia, this month's council president.

On Tuesday, bombs exploded on two buses in a Christian area of Lebanon, killing three people and wounding 22 on the eve of the second anniversary of Hariri's assassination.

The anti-Syrian coalition that dominates the Beirut government and has a majority in parliament blamed Damascus for the attack and demanded Syria stop the smuggling of weapons. Syria has denied both allegations.

Most of the casualties were on public buses carrying people to work in Beirut from Ain Alaq village near Bikfaya, home town of former president Amin Gemayel whose son was assassinated by gunmen in November.

Lebanon has witnessed 15 attacks on politicians, journalists and public places since Hariri's slaying on February 14, 2005.

Acting U.S. Ambassador Alejandro Wolff told reporters, "it is absolutely no coincidence that these two terrorist bombings came on the eve of the second anniversary of the Hariri assassination." He said an investigation by the United Nations "fits in with the original mandate of this commission."

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