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Car explosion kills senior officer in east Beirut
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A senior officer of the Lebanese army and his bodyguard were killed in a car explosion near a Christian town east of Beirut on Wednesday, security sources said.



Lebanon's Brigadier General and head of operations Francois al-Hajj poses in this Sept. 4, 2007 file photo. A suspected car bomb in a Lebanese Christian town east of Beirut killed Hajj and at least four other people on Dec. 12, 2007, security sources said.


The car bomb explosion shattered Chief of Lebanese Operations Brigadier General Francois al-Hajj's car as it drove in Baabda, the historic capital of Mount Lebanon province, and seat of the presidential palace, which is on another hill.


The official National News Agency said in its prior report that four people were killed and tens of others injured in the explosion, which occurred before 7 a.m. (GMT 0100) on Wednesday.


The slain officer was a leading candidate to take over as army commander if current commander General Michel Suleiman was elected president, local LBC TV reported.


The Lebanese Committee of the Red Cross has rushed to the scene for sending the injured to hospital, said the report, adding that the explosion also left more than five cars in fire.


The explosion came as Lebanon is facing its worst crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war, being locked in a political impasse arose from a power struggle between the governing coalition and the opposition.



Lebanese soldiers secure the site of an explosion in Christian town Baabda east of Beirut Dec. 12, 2007.


A Lebanese presidential election scheduled for Tuesday was postponed till Dec. 17, to give rival leaders more time for reaching a deal on electing the Army Chief Gen. Michel Suleiman as the country's new president.


It is the eighth postponement since Sept. 25, which left the presidency vacant since former President Emile Lahoud stepped down on Nov. 24.


Lebanese ruling coalition and the opposition have been separated by a wide chasm since six of the latter's ministers resigned from Premier Fouad Seniora's government in November last year.


The forecast presidential event has caused widespread concern among the Lebanese, fearing further disarrays and possible eruption of violence.


(Xinhua News Agency December 13, 2007)

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