January 26, 2008 / 9:28 AM / 10 years ago

Lebanon buries slain officer

4 Min Read

<p>Lebanese policemen carry the coffin of assassinated Captain Wisam Eid past his poster during a funeral procession in the general security headquarters in Beirut January 26, 2008. Lebanon's police chief vowed on Saturday to confront those who terrorise the nation at the funeral service of Eid, a police intelligence officer who was involved in investigating assassinations in the country.Sharif Karim</p>

BEIRUT (Reuters) - Lebanon's police chief vowed on Saturday to confront those who "terrorize this nation" at a memorial service for a police intelligence officer killed in a car bomb attack the previous day.

Captain Wisam Eid, who helped investigate assassinations in Lebanon, and his bodyguard were killed when a car bomb ripped through a Christian suburb of Beirut on Friday.

Police said the death toll in the attack had risen to five, from four, and there were 42 wounded.

Eid's assassination was the latest in a series of bombings and political killings over the past three years. The turmoil has fuelled the worst political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

"They thought that with their crime, they can affect our commitment and will, but they are really delusional," said police chief Brigadier General Ashraf Rifi at the memorial service at the internal security forces' headquarters in Beirut.

"We pledge to you that the internal security forces will continue to confront those who wanted to terrorize this nation with their crimes ... our decision is to ... confront the empire of death and terrorism," Rifi said.

President George W. Bush offered his condolences.

"This bombing, the latest in a series of terrorist attacks targeting those who are working to secure Lebanon's independence and sovereignty, is a part of the continuing assault on Lebanon's institutions," Bush said in a statement.

"We will not falter in our support for the democratically elected Lebanese government."

Eid, 31, who was posthumously promoted to major, worked for an intelligence unit considered close to anti-Syrian ruling majority leader Saad al-Hariri. The unit was frequently criticized by the Syrian-backed opposition.

He was a communications engineer who security sources said was responsible for tracking mobile phone communications made by attackers in previous killings and of Islamist militant cells.

<p>Lebanese police carry the coffin of assassinated Captain Wisam Eid during a funeral procession in the general security headquarters in Beirut January 26, 2008. Lebanon's police chief vowed to confront those who terrorise the nation at the funeral service of Eid, a police intelligence officer who was involved in investigating assassinations in the country.Sharif Karim</p>

The unit had also been closely involved in the U.N.-led investigation into the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and in a crackdown on al Qaeda-inspired militants whom the army fought last year.

Mourning, Anger

Prime Minister Fouad Siniora declared Saturday a national day of mourning for Eid and the other victims.

Mourners, many of whom waved the flag of the Sunni Muslim "Future" bloc, carried Eid's coffin to his family home in the northern town of Deir Ammar. Women threw rice and flowers at the coffin, which his weeping mother kissed repeatedly.

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"This is the third time that they tried to kill him. He was very kind, he had an important position, but to me he will always be a child," Eid's mother said earlier.

Mourners cheered as the coffin was carried to a municipality building in Deir Ammar, amid a flurry of shots fired in the air. Others cried as Koranic verses blared from loudspeakers.

Fellow police officers raised their swords and saluted the coffin before Eid was buried in a nearby cemetery.

Thousands of Lebanese had earlier greeted the convoy as it inched its way from nearby Tripoli, where funeral prayers were held. Some chanted anti-Syrian slogans.

Last month, a car bomb killed the army's chief of operations, Francois Hajj, in east Beirut.

The ruling majority says Syria is behind Hariri's slaying and many of the more than 30 bombings that have hit Lebanon in the past three years, often targeting anti-Syrian figures. Damascus has denied involvement in any of the killings.

Eid's killing comes at a time of a deepening political crisis in which the Western-backed ruling coalition and Hezbollah-led opposition have been at odds for over a year.

The crisis has paralyzed government and its institutions and has left Lebanon with no head of state for the first time since the 1975-1990 civil war.

Additional reporting by Nazih Siddiq in north Lebanon and Caren Bohan in Washington; Editing by Elizabeth Piper

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