A powerful bomb exploded in downtown Beirut early Friday morning, killing at least six people and injuring more than 70. The attack targeted and killed Mahommad B. Chatah, a one-time ambassador to the United States and a former Lebanese finance minister who was critical of the Assad government in neighboring Syria.
Chatah was a member of the Lebanon's Future coalition and a close aide to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, whose father, who was also prime minster, was killed in a similar explosion in Beirut in 2005.
The attack highlights the effect the civil war in Syria has had on the Lebanese government, which is deeply divided over the conflict, and has fueled concern that the country could be headed towards a civil war of its own.
The Future coalition, which is predominantly Sunni and allied with Saudi Arabia, supports the rebels in Syria attempting to overthrow the Assad government. Hezbollah, Lebanon's another major political party, supports the Syrian government and has close ties to Iran.
Just hours before the attack, Chatah published a tweet criticizing Hezbollah.
#Hezbollah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 yrs.
— Mohamad B Chatah (@mohamad_chatah) December 27, 2013
The bombing comes five weeks after twin suicide bombings exploded near the Iranian embassy in one of Beirut's Shiite neighborhoods, killing 23 including an Iranian diplomat.
[Image via AP]