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Angry Mourners Bury Slain Lebanese Lawmaker


Thousands of angry mourners have attended the funeral of Lebanese lawmaker Walid Eido, who was killed along with nine others in a car bombing Wednesday. VOA's Challiss McDonough has more from our Middle East bureau in Cairo.

Several thousand mourners chanted anti-Syrian slogans as lawmaker Walid Eido's coffin was carried toward the cemetery.

A large car bomb Wednesday killed Eido, his son Khaled and eight other people. It was the sixth and largest bombing in or near the Lebanese capital in the last month.

Walid Eido was the seventh prominent anti-Syrian figure to be assassinated in Lebanon since the beginning of 2005, when former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri and 22 others were killed by another massive car bomb.

Eido was chairman of the parliamentary defense committee and a member of the anti-Syrian March 14th movement led by Hariri's son, Saad.

At the funeral, Saad Hariri called the killers "criminals."

He says the killers will be dragged to prison, dragged to justice, God willing. He says then Lebanon will have justice, and Walid Eido and his son will be the nation's martyrs.

A new U.N. Security Council resolution went into effect three days ago establishing an international tribunal for suspects in the Hariri assassination. Syria and its allies in Lebanon oppose the court, and the issue has been at the center of a political deadlock that has all but shut down Lebanese politics since November.

Hundreds of mostly pro-Syrian opposition activists have been camped outside the prime minister's office in an open-ended protest. The opposition has been calling for a new government for more than six months, ever since six pro-Syrian cabinet ministers resigned, including all of the Shi'ites.

Opposition leaders deny their protests are related to the tribunal, but most analysts say the international court is the key issue behind both the cabinet walkout and the street demonstrations.

Syria has condemned the attack that killed Walid Eido and has also denied responsibility for it. The foreign ministry called it a "criminal attack" aimed at damaging Lebanon's security and stability as well as discrediting Syria.

The anti-Syrian March 14 group currently holds a narrow majority in Lebanon's parliament. Several key members, including Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, say the most recent assassinations are an effort to cut down their parliamentary majority.

Lebanon's pro-Syrian President, Emile Lahoud, has refused to call a by-election to replace the last slain lawmaker, Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel, who was shot to death in November.

Lebanon has also been rocked over the last month by ongoing clashes between the army and heavily armed Sunni Muslim militants holed up in a Palestinian refugee camp in the north. The group, Fatah al-Islam, is inspired by al-Qaida and has threatened to take the battle outside the camp.

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