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Lebanese Army Tightens Security in Wake of Beirut Bombing

Shops are closed and the Lebanese Army is patrolling the streets of Beirut, as ordinary citizens and political figures mourn the death of the former prime minister, Rafik al Hariri, known to many as Mr. Lebanon.

Lebanon's top political figures pay their respects to the slain former prime minister's family as a Sunni Moslem cleric reads verses of the Koran.

In Beirut, the city's usually dense traffic has slowed to a trickle, and an eerie silence hovers over empty streets, as ordinary citizens mourn their much-loved former leader.

Most shops and cafes are shuttered, to respect a three-day period of mourning called by Mr. Hariri's political allies.

On Hamra Street newspaper stands keep vigil, with somber black headlines from the Beirut press lamenting the death of the five-time former prime minister.

Mr. "Hiriri has died a martyr and Lebanon is plunged in torment," shouts the headline of Beirut's As Safir newspaper. "Hell has again come to Beirut," proclaims Beirut's normally staid An Nahar newspaper.

The Lebanese Army remains in a state of alert, after angry demonstrators tried to storm the Beirut headquarters of the pro-Syrian Baath party, last night. Army convoys continue patrolling the empty sea front boulevard where Mr. Hariri died, as politicians scramble to accuse Syria of his killing.

Syria has had large numbers of troops in Lebanon since 1976, at the height of that country's civil war. It currently has about 14,000 deployed.

Druze politician Walid Jumblatt, an ally of Mr. Hariri, says Syria will be, in his words, "held responsible for his death unless it produces proof to the contrary."

Top opposition politicians are also calling for a new, interim government to be formed, and an international inquest into Mr. Hariri's assassination.