Anti-Syrian sentiment at Eido funeral

 

Some 3,000 mourners chanted anti-Syrian slogans today at the funeral of a Lebanese legislator who was one of 10 people killed in a car bomb attack yesterday.

Walid Eido was the seventh anti-Syrian figure to be assassinated since February 2005, when former prime minister Rafik al-Hariri was killed in a suicide truck bombing.

Allies of Mr Eido said the killing was Syria's response to a UN Security Council vote last week establishing a court to try suspects in the Hariri attack.

But Syria denied any links to the assassination.

"Syria strongly denounces this crime and condemns the campaign of lies by some Lebanese used to accuse Syria after any killing and before an investigation even starts," a Syrian Foreign Ministry statement said.

Mr Eido, a Sunni Muslim, belonged to the majority anti-Syrian parliamentary bloc led by Mr Hariri's son, Saad al-Hariri, which controls the government.

"I tell the criminals that, God willing, you will be punished and dragged to jail like low-lifes," Saad al-Hariri told the crowd today.

Yesterday's bombing near a Beirut beach club killed Mr Eido, his eldest son, two bodyguards and six passers-by.

Businesses, banks and schools were shut in Beirut and elsewhere to observe a national day of mourning.

Three ambulances bore coffins draped in Lebanese flags to a Beirut mosque. Mourners carried the white-and-blue flags of Hariri's Future Trend movement and filed past pictures of Mr Eido and his lawyer son bearing the slogan "Men of Justice".

Mr Eido's death is likely to fuel tension between the government and the opposition, led by the pro-Syrian Shia Hizbullah group, which has also condemned the killing.