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Mkalles 12 December 2005  

Gibran Tueni assassinated by car bomb    by: Daily Star.
BEIRUT: A car bomb killed outspoken Lebanese journalist and anti-Syrian politician Gibran Tueni Monday, a day after returning from Paris where he had received information his life was no longer under threat. At around 9 Monday morning, a booby-trapped Renault car with up to 40 kg of dynamite was exploded by remote control in the Mkalles area as Tueni's armored Range Rover drove by on the way to his office at the An Nahar newspaper in downtown Beirut.

Tueni, 48-year-old MP for the Orthodox seat in Achrafieh, was accompanied by a friend AndrĊ½ Michel and his driver Nicolas al-Falouti. All three died in the blast.

Tueni was taking his usual diversion along a minor road to avoid traffic while traveling to downtown Beirut.

Meanwhile, Lebanese politicians, especially those that belong to the anti-Syrian camp, immediately blamed Damascus, which denied any role and said the killing had been timed to smear it.

Around 30 people, mainly Lebanese, Syrian and Egyptian workers from nearby factories, were injured in the blast and taken to the Lebanese Canadian Hospital and Al-Mashreq Hospitals, according to an official statement released by the Directorate General of the Civil Defense.

Ambulances and fire appliances from the Sadd al-Baouchrieh and Bourj al-Barajneh stations, joined by units from stations in the areas surrounding Mkalles, recovered the bodies of Tueni and his two companions.

Security reports said they had been "torn into pieces and charred beyond recognition." The force of the car bomb blew Tueni's two-ton plus vehicle off the road and sent it careering around 100 meters down a steep incline into the valley.

Police reported finding assault rifles and military bags near the MP's wrecked vehicle.

Daily Star sources said several men were taken in for questioning, where one of them was interrogated about the car used in the explosion. It was later confirmed that he had only recently sold the Renault.

Tueni's wife, Siham, arrived at the bomb site, and was in tears and disbelief as she muttered how this road was the "regular route" taken by her husband from his home at Beit Mery to the An Nahar office.

Tueni's body was taken to Hotel Dieu Hospital, where hospital sources said "everything possible was being done to prepare the body for burial." It was later transferred to St. Georges Hospital for "symbolic reasons."

"Tueni told his family that if anything should happen to him, then his body should end up at St. Georges Hospital as a gesture of solidarity with his religion," a senior hospital source told The Daily Star.

As his coffin arrived, bells from nearby churches rang in his honor and the pall bearers chanted anti-Syrian slogans.

A source from An-Nahar told The Daily Star that during the last staff meeting, Tueni told his staff he stayed in Paris for security reasons, but that he intended to remain in Lebanon as "it is now safe." Tueni said he had received confidential information from "a foreign intelligence source" in this regard.

Tueni returned from Paris Sunday night, after attending a ceremony in which his father Ghassan was awarded a Legion of Honor medal. Tueni senior returned to Beirut Monday night after receiving news of his son's assassination.

"There are some people who live in a dream world, and there are some who face the reality; and then there are who turn one into the other."

Douglas Everett

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