Lebanese General Killed in Blast

Death of official about to head army could jeopardize presidential deal
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 12, 2007 5:45 AM CST
Lebanese soldiers work at the scene of a bomb explosion, with debris strewn over the area near damaged cars after the bomb exploded in a Christian suburb of Beirut, Lebanon, Wednesday, Dec. 12, 2007....   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – An explosion outside of the Lebanese presidential palace near Beirut has killed at least four people, including a prominent general. Gen. Francois al-Hajj had been slated to become army chief if the current leader, Michel Suleiman, becomes president. The army believes that the bomb was a coordinated attack on Hajj, who was in his car en route to the ministry of defense, BBC reports.

The explosion occurred in a highly guarded area, suggesting that the attack was planned in advance and that the perpetrators are well organized, officials said. Lebanon has been deadlocked for months over the election of its next president, but the pro-Western ruling faction and the Syrian-supported opposition had agreed to back Suleiman as the next head of state. Today's attack could jeopardize that compromise.