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Last Updated: Tuesday, 12 July, 2005, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Beirut bomb targets top minister
Burning car following attack on Elias Murr
The blast appeared to target the ministerial motorcade
A powerful car bomb has injured the outgoing Lebanese defence minister, and killed at least two other people.

Police said Elias Murr was taken to hospital with minor wounds while one of his entourage was seriously injured.

Television footage showed two wrecked vehicles and a bloodied casualty in severe shock being helped from a car.

Lebanon has seen a string of bombings against anti-Syrian opposition figures since last year. Mr Murr by contrast is a staunch supporter of Syria.

The bomb went off as Mr Murr's motorcade passed in the affluent Christian suburb of Antelias.

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"I saw smoke and fire out on the street and people screaming. It was a very loud explosion," said one 14-year-old eyewitness.

Mr Murr is the son-in-law of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud and has been put forward as a loyalist representative in the cabinet being formed after the opposition victory in recent elections.

"I know the country is going through a difficult phase and we all have to be steadfast until this phase passes," he said in a statement from his hospital bed broadcast on Lebanon radio.

String of attacks

Syrian forces left Lebanon after the assassination of ex-Prime Minister Rafik Hariri in February.

Many Lebanese blamed Syria or its supporters in Lebanon for Hariri's death, a charge which Syria has strongly denied.

Elections following the withdrawal of Syria's troops and intelligence services handed victory to the Future movement led by Hariri's son and political heir Saad Hariri.

The latest blast came as Prime Minister-designate Fouad Siniora continued talks to build a coalition.

It follows a month after leftist politician George Hawi and journalist Samir Qasir, both from the anti-Syrian camp, were killed in separate bombings.

Correspondents say those attacks re-ignited anti-Syrian feeling in Lebanon after the opposition's success in elections.

See footage of the aftermath of the explosion


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