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U.S. welcomes death of Hezbollah commander

(Adds White House spokesman's comment)

WASHINGTON, Feb 13 (Reuters) - The United States on Wednesday applauded the killing of Hezbollah leader Imad Moughniyah in a car bomb in Damascus, and called him a cold-blooded murderer responsible for many deaths.

"The world is a better place without this man in it. He was a cold-blooded killer, a mass murderer and a terrorist responsible for countless innocent lives lost," said State Department spokesman Sean McCormack. "One way or another he was brought to justice."

McCormack said he did not know who was responsible for the killing of Moughniyah, who was on the U.S. most-wanted list for attacks on Israeli and Western targets. Hezbollah accused Israel of assassinating Moughniyah but Israel denied involvement in Tuesday's car bomb attack.

He was implicated in the 1983 bombings of the U.S. Embassy and U.S. Marine and French peacekeeping barracks in Beirut, which killed over 350 people, as well as the 1992 bombing of the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires and the kidnapping of Westerners in Lebanon in the 1980s.

He was under indictment in the United States for his role in planning and participating in the June 14, 1985, hijacking of a U.S. TWA airliner and the killing of an American passenger.

"This is somebody who was a mass murderer. He was a cold-blooded killer responsible for countless deaths of many people from many nations," said McCormack.

"You can just go down the list of other nationalities that were affected by his acts of terror ... The list goes on and on and on," he added.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said he was not familiar with the circumstances of Moughniyah's death but added: "This was an individual indicted in U.S. courts. He was clearly a bad actor." (Reporting by Sue Pleming and Jeremy Pelofsky, editing by Doina Chiacu)

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