UK & World News

  • 27 December 2013, 18:47

Beirut Car Bomb Kills Political Adviser

An explosion in the Lebanese capital of Beirut has killed at least five people and wounded 50, according to the state news agency.

The suspected car bomb exploded in the city's business district, reportedly damaging 10 buildings, and setting cars ablaze.

A large plume of smoke billowed out of the area shortly after the blast.

Former Lebanese minister Mohammad Chatah, a prominent pro-Western politician, was reportedly among those killed in the explosion.

Mr Chatahwas an adviser to former Lebanese anti-Syria prime ministers Saad Hariri and Fuad Siniora.

The economist and former finance minister was killed along with his driver as they headed to MrHariri's mansion in the city centre, according to the National News Agency.

He was due to attend a meeting of the March 14 anti-Syria coalition which backs the Syrian opposition struggle to topple the Damascus regime.

Sky's Middle East News Editor Tom Rayner said it was not clear why Mr Chatah was targeted, as he did not currently have a high profile role in Syrian coalition talks.

"It suggests that this is symbolic - it's an attack on what he represents," he said, speaking from Jerusalem.

RaynersaidMrChatah'smotorcade likely had a smaller security detail and was therefore seen as an "easy target".

Ambulances are currently at the scene and troops have been deployed.

No responsibility has yet been claimed for the bombing.

Lebanon has seen a wave of bombings over the last few months amid tensions over the Syrian civil war.