UPDATE 1-Lebanese Christian leader says escapes assassination
BEIRUT, Sept 23 (Reuters) - A Lebanese Christian political leader and ally of the Shi'ite group Hezbollah said he escaped an assassination attempt when his convoy came under fire in the south of the country.
Michel Aoun, head of the Free Patriotic Movement (FPM), was returning to Beirut on Saturday evening when one of the cars in his convoy was shot at in the mainly Sunni city of Sidon, a statement on the FPM website said.
"I have been exposed to three assassination attempts (in the past) and the perpetrators were discovered," the website quoted Aoun as saying. "This is the fourth and we hope they will be revealed."
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel said a shot was fired at one of several decoy vehicles driving slightly in advance of the convoy carrying Aoun himself. The bullet passed close to one of the people in the car, Charbel told Reuters.
"We are awaiting the outcome of investigations" into who was responsible for the gunfire, Charbel said.
A spokesman for Prime Minister Najib Mikati said the premier had called Aoun after the incident from New York, where he has travelled to attend a U.N. General Assembly meeting. Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah also spoke to Aoun.
The attack on Aoun's convoy is the latest reported threat to prominent politicians in Lebanon, where tensions over the uprising in neighbouring Syria against President Bashar al-Assad have polarised chronic sectarian and political rifts.
Two other Christian politicians, Samir Geagea and Boutros Harb, have said they were targets earlier this year. Geagea said shots were fired at his home in northern Lebanon in April and Harb said security forces found a bomb in the lift of his office building in July.
Aoun's largely Christian FPM is allied with the pro-Assad Hezbollah in Mikati's government, while Geagea and Harb are both staunchly anti-Assad.
Other politicians including Shi'ite parliamentary speaker Nabih Berri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt have been warned about threats against them, political sources have said.
Former prime minister Saad al-Hariri, whose father was assassinated in a 2005 Beirut bombing, has been living outside Lebanon for nearly a year and a half, partly due to fears for his security.
- U.S. Mega Millions lottery up to $400 million, 2nd-biggest ever
- Uruguay becomes first country to legalize marijuana trade
- Pope Francis named Time's Person of the Year
- Thousands of South Africans line up to see Mandela lie in state |
- China bitcoin arbitrage ends as traders work around capital controls