Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Breaking News: Deadly Explosion in Baabda!!

Update: News services have reported the assassination of the Lebanese Army Chief of Operations, General Francois el Hajj.

A large explosion has been reported in the Baabda-Hadath district of Lebanon, just south-east of the capital. According to emerging reports, the explosion took place at approximately 7:00 am (local time) near the Baabda municipal building.

News services have reported between four and six dead along with dozens wounded. News services have also reported the strong possibility that the explosion may have been due to a car-bomb. Several cars in the vicinity of the explosion were completely destroyed, with debris scattered over a large area. A large plume of smoke could be seen rising over the site of the explosion.

A security cordon has now been established around the site of the explosion. The wounded have been taken to the Saint Charles Hospital, the Baabda Hospital, and Qalb Yassou3 Hospital.

The Baabda district is home to the country's Presidential Palace, the current center-stage for the country's ongoing crisis.

Brigadier General Francois el Hajj has been confirmed as the target of today's assassination (via the Baabda explosion). Hajj's body was discovered some 150 meters from the site of the explosion. He was rumored to be a serious contender [along with Chief of Military Intelligence, George Khoury] to succeed Michel Suleiman in the post of Army Commander. Hajj's current post within the Army was Chief of Operations.


  1. Anonymous8:08 AM

    Al Jazeera is saying a military guy was targeted!

  2. Anonymous8:10 AM

    doesn't the FPM guy Abu Jamra live near there?

  3. Orange Storange8:11 AM

    Yes! And he's a retired General...

  4. Anonymous8:13 AM

    thanks 4 updates!

  5. Anonymous8:35 AM

    yeah like anyone would target Abu Jamra!!! Why would the Syrians kill the people that are doing their bidding!!!

  6. Hajj was rumored to be a contender for the post of Army Commander, pending Suleiman's taking of the presidential seat.

  7. Anonymous9:43 AM

    it sucks!!!
    when are they planning to stop!!!!
    what a good morning for Lebanese people and for Lebanon.
    Thank God i immigrated.

  8. Some are suggesting it is also a revenge killing for his successful assault on Fatah al Islam.

  9. With respect to Fatah al Islam and Nahr el Bared, revenge might be too strong of a sentiment for the Syrians over that, more likely it was an attempt to bury any and all questions relating to the issue.

  10. BJ - my immediate thought was also that this General probably "knew too much" about something. It could be Nahr el Bared or it could also be the other assassinations. The Tribunal is getting closer each day.

  11. Check the following post for further commentary and analysis.

  12. Arabic Coffee Pot8:35 PM

    Also check this NOW Lebanon article for interesting info

    "This is a person who went against red lines."

  13. Reports from Lebanon indicate the arrest of a number of people in teh city of Saida, relation to today's assassination.

    According to those same reports, the suspects were traced back through the car used to assassinate Brig. Gen. Francois el Hajj.

  14. Quips:

    A parked car packed with 35 kilograms (77 pounds) of TNT exploded, apparently set off by remote control, ripping through Hajj's SUV, setting several other nearby ablaze and knocking a crater two meters (yards) wide and a meter (yard) deep into the pavement.


    Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh, speaking to Associated Press Television News, accused the «Syrian-Iranian axis» of hitting the military, «the only body in Lebanon who can balance the power of Hezbollah and other militias in the country.

  15. Jimmy4:03 PM

    Three men were arrested today at the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp in South Lebanon on suspicion of involvement in the assassination of Brigadier General François Hajj.

    Yesterday, the Lebanese army arrested one person at the crime scene shortly after the explosion.

    The investigation into the three men started when it was discovered that each of them, at one time, was the registered owner of the BMW that exploded, killing General Hajj.

    Hajj, who was chief of the Lebanese army’s operations, was killed yesterday when the BMW exploded as he was driving by.

    He was expected to succeed present army commander, General Michel Sleiman, if the latter were to be elected president.

    (Now Lebanon)

  16. Jimmy7:18 PM

    The army has said a BMW packed with 30 kilograms (77 pounds) of explosives detonated as Hajj drove past, killing him and bodyguard Khairallah Hedwan.

    The Red Cross said eight people were wounded.
    It was not clear if the license plate found by investigators at the scene of the bombing belonged to the booby-trapped car that killed Hajj.


  17. Investigators are searching for two suspects who purchased the vehicle used in the car bombing that killed senior General Francois Hajj just two days before the attack, security sources said Thursday. Security sources in the South told The Daily Star that three men from Sidon's Tameer district who were detained and questioned by investigators had previously owned the vehicle and had sold it to a fourth man from Iqlim al-Kharroub.

    The fourth man was also detained and questioned and claimed to have sold the vehicle, a 30-year-old, olive green, BMW 320, to two unidentified men just two days before the attack. The fourth owner of the vehicle said he did not know the names of the two buyers, as they paid him in cash, took the car and left promising to contact him in order to complete registration procedures, but never did.

    A bearded man, whose presence aroused suspicion at the blast site, was also detained briefly and questioned at the scene but later released.

    Investigators are also searching for a long-range radio receiver in the scattered wreckage of the booby-trapped vehicle. The receiver, believed to have been attached to the detonator which triggered the blast, allowed the perpetrator to set off the bomb from a safe distance.

    A security source told The Daily Star that investigators are now searching for the receiver's robust metal casing that would have survived the firestorm caused by the explosion. "The site of the blast was carefully chosen. It allowed the perpetrator to stand anywhere in a radius of 180 degrees from the blast zone, as far as 500 to 1,000 meters from the blast site, and detonate the explosive device remotely," the source said.

    The source said that the area where the bomb went off is a "strictly monitored security zone" and the only "corridor" that army officers and Defense Ministry staff use to get to work every morning. "Footage from two cameras at two bank ATM machines along the general's route are being examined by investigators," the source added.

    Eyewitness reports indicate that the booby-trapped vehicle packed with 35 kilograms of powerful explosives, was brought to the site only "minutes" before Hajj passed along the road. "The perpetrators must have known the general's route and that he would be passing at that specific time and on that specific day," the source said.

    Residue that was not consumed in the fire from the blast is being examined by investigators to determine what type of explosive was used and in which country it was likely to have been manufactured.


  18. Jimmy3:50 PM

    Investigation into the assassination of Brig. Gen. Francois el-Hajj and his bodyguard, staff sergeant Khairallah Hadwan, is focusing on suspects hiding inside the southern refugee camp of Ain al-Hilweh and believed linked to the terrorist Fatah al-Islam group.
    In the southern port city of Sidon, security sources doubted that three suspects arrested on Wednesday were connected to the murder.

    The three detainees -- identified as fishermen Mohammed Masri, Talal Masri and Mohammed al-Atab – were arrested in house raids in Taamir, a residential area adjacent to Ain al-Hilweh.

    The sources said a man identified as Hussein Nasser had sold the olive green BMW used in the bombing attack to the party that likely detonated the vehicle.



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