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Security Council asks independent commission to probe bombing in Beirut

Security Council asks independent commission to probe bombing in Beirut

The Security Council has asked the independent commission charged with investigating the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri and other killings to help the country’s authorities probe last week’s murder of the lawmaker Walid Eido.

In a letter to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that was released today, Council President Ambassador Johan C. Verbeke of Belgium said members invited the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC) “to extend appropriate technical assistance to the Lebanese authorities in the investigation.”

Mr. Eido was killed last Wednesday, along with his son and at least six others, after an explosion struck the Manara district of the capital, Beirut. He had been a member of the Lebanese Parliament.

The Council letter follows a request from Lebanese Prime Minister Fouad Siniora for help to find the perpetrators of the bombing, which was condemned by Council members and Mr. Ban.

Mr. Eido’s apparent assassination is the latest in a series of targeted killings of Lebanese political figures, including Mr. Hariri, who was killed with 22 others in a massive car bomb explosion in downtown Beirut in February 2005.

Last week Mr. Ban began the steps and measures to formally establish a special tribunal to try the suspected killers of Mr. Hariri – and possibly those responsible for the subsequent assassinations as well.

He also extended the appointment of Serge Brammertz, the head of the International Independent Investigation Commission (IIIC), through 31 December this year.

In April 2005 the Security Council set up the IIIC after an earlier UN mission found that Lebanon's own inquiry into the Hariri assassination was seriously flawed and that Syria was primarily responsible for the political tensions that preceded the attack.

Mr. Brammertz told the Council last September that evidence obtained so far suggests that a young, male suicide bomber, probably non-Lebanese, detonated up to 1,800 kilograms of explosives inside a van to assassinate Mr. Hariri.