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Last Updated: Monday, 19 July, 2004, 10:35 GMT 11:35 UK
Beirut bomb kills Hezbollah man
Beirut car bomb
Hezbollah said Monday's attack was the work of Israeli intelligence
A suspected car bomb has exploded in the Lebanese capital Beirut, killing a senior figure from the Hezbollah movement.

Hezbollah sources said Ghaleb Awali was killed as he started his car outside his home on Monday morning.

The blast happened in Beirut's southern suburb of Harat Hreik - a stronghold of the Shia Muslim Hezbollah group.

Hezbollah said the attack was the work of Israel, which has accused Hezbollah of fuelling Palestinian militancy.

Witnesses say the car exploded shortly after Awali turned on the engine.

The Hezbollah-run al-Manar television station showed images of the charred vehicle and hailed Awali as a "martyr" of the "Islamic resistance".

The movement's officials say Awali led several attacks against Israel during its occupation of south Lebanon.

Funeral

The AFP news agency has reported that a little-known Sunni Muslim militant group, Jund al-Sham, claimed it carried out Monday's attack.

The claim has not been confirmed.

Hezbollah fighters played a central role in ending Israel's occupation of south Lebanon in 2000.

The group's leadership has been targeted by Israel's security services and there are occasional clashes with the Israeli army along the Lebanese-Israeli border.

A Hezbollah leader, Abbas al-Mussawi, was killed in an Israeli air strike on his car in 1992.

A car bomb in August 2003 killed Ali Hussein Saleh, a security guard at Iran's embassy in Beirut, who had worked for the Hezbollah movement.

In May this year, Lebanon said it had uncovered an Israeli plot to murder the Hezbollah leader, Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah.

The Sheikh is expected to attend a funeral service for Awali later on Monday.

Hezbollah is considered a terrorist organisation by the United States and Israel. However, across the Middle East, it is widely respected for its role in driving Israel out of southern Lebanon and for its political organisation.




SEE ALSO:
Lebanon 'smashes Israel spy ring'
18 May 04  |  Middle East
Israeli jets strike at Hezbollah
20 Jun 04  |  Middle East
Beirut blast kills Hezbollah fighter
02 Aug 03  |  Middle East
New era for Hezbollah
05 Mar 04  |  Middle East
Who are Hezbollah?
04 Apr 02  |  Middle East



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