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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 December 2005, 11:13 GMT
Beirut mourns dead press magnate
Mourner for Gibran Tueni
Large crowds are expected for the funeral on Wednesday
An unofficial day of mourning is being observed by people in Lebanon after a bomb attack that killed anti-Syrian newspaper owner and MP Gibran Tueni.

Shops and businesses will remain closed for the day and all Beirut's schools have been asked to call off lessons.

Amid rising political tension, Syrian loyalists in the cabinet withdrew after the PM called for a UN probe into this and a string of similar attacks.

One pro-Syria minister likened the call to "abandoning Lebanon's sovereignty".

"This is not a resignation from the government but a suspension of membership in the cabinet while awaiting a decision from our political leadership," Energy Minister Mohammed Fneish, a member of Hezbollah, added.

Gibran Tueni did not die - al-Nahar continues
Newspaper headline

The UN is already investigating the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri who was killed in a massive car bomb in Beirut in February.

The Security Council is due to debate the latest report into the case later on Tuesday.

Death threat

The 48-year-old owner of al-Nahar newspaper was killed along with his driver and bodyguard and one other person early on Monday morning when a bomb blew up his armour-plated car.

He had only just returned from France a day earlier, having spent time there since August after receiving death threats.

Gibran Tueni (file photo)
Gibran Tueni was a fierce critic of Syria's occupation of Lebanon
He was one of the first public figures in Lebanon to criticise Syria's long military presence in Lebanon, in an open letter to the future Syrian president, Bashar al-Assad, in 2000.

"Gibran Tueni did not die, al-Nahar continues," said the banner headline of his newspaper on Tuesday, along with a photograph picture showing him wearing the red-and-white scarf of the so-called "Cedar Revolution" protests that followed Hariri's killing.

A previously-unknown group calling itself Strugglers for the Unity and Freedom of the Levant claimed it carried out the attack but there was no independent confirmation.

The bombing came just hours before a UN inquiry team said it had fresh evidence to reinforce earlier findings of Syrian involvement in Mr Hariri's murder and obstruction by Damascus in the investigation.

Maximum damage

The latest report by German prosecutor Detlev Mehlis accused Syria of "reluctance" and "procrastination" on some issues, and hinted at lingering doubts that Damascus is fully committed to co-operating.

"It remains to be seen if a substantive law-enforcement investigation will be carried out to its full extent," it said.

Steady progress on the Lebanese track "remains to be matched" on the Syrian track, it added.

But it stopped short of accusing Damascus of failing to comply with a Security Council resolution on the case.

Damascus has strongly denied any involvement in the Hariri killing and Information Minister Mehdi Dakhlallah charged that the latest attack was timed to "implicate Syria and cause the maximum possible damage to its reputation".

The murder of Mr Hariri and 20 others in February led to huge anti-Syria protests in Lebanon, and the withdrawal of Syrian troops.

Since then, at least 14 blasts explosions have been carried out against Christian and anti-Syrian targets.

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