Lebanese protesters erected flaming roadblocks and gunmen roamed the streets today in a city on edge after the assassination of a top security official in a powerful car bomb the prime minister linked to the civil war in neighboring Syria. The crisis raised a terrifying specter for Lebanese who fear their country could easily plunge back into cycles of violence and reprisal that have haunted it for decades. Yesterday's blast in the heart of Beirut's Christian area killed eight people, including the country's intelligence chief, Brig. Gen. Wissam al-Hassan.
It was the deadliest bombing in Beirut in four years, shattering the country's uneasy calm. The government declared a national day of mourning for the victims today, but protesters burned tires and set up roadblocks in anger. Sharbal Abdo, who lives in the neighborhood where the bomb went off, brought his 6-year-old son, Chris, and 12-year-old daughter, Jane, to see the destruction today. "They were very afraid yesterday," he said. "They need to face this situation. It may be their future."