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Anti-Syrian Minister Pierre Gemayel Assassinated

(Retrieved from Naharnet on November 21, 2006)



 Industry Minister Pierre Gemayel was assassinated Tuesday in the latest in a spate of attacks against anti

 -Syrian politicians, and with angry voices already blaming Damascus.

 Gemayel escorts said a lone assailant shot the minister in the head at point blank range from a silencer

 -equipped gun.


 One escort said two cars took Gemayel's convoy by surprise. He said an assassin stepped out of one of

 the cars and shot Gemayel in his Kia automobile near the Mar Antonios church in the Jdeideh suburb

 north of Beirut as he drove home.


 Dubbing Gemayel "the prince of youth," Saniora also urged the Lebanese to stay united in order to

 safeguard Lebanon.. The window on the driver's side was riddled with bullet holes.


 The escort said Gemayel, 34, was rushed to the nearby Mar Youssef hospital, where he died soon



 Lebanese television channels interrupted their normal broadcasts to air classical music after Gemayel's

 death was confirmed.

 Gemayel's father, former President Amin Gemayel, urged his followers from the Phalange Party, which

 he currently heads, to exercise restraint and refrain from vengeance.

 "Pierre was martyred for the sake of a cause, for the sake of freedom and for the sake of Lebanon," his

 father said.


 He urged all those "who love Pierre to light candles tonight and pray for Lebanon … and think of how we

 can protect this country away from vengeance."


 Pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud condemned Gemayel's killing, saying it was part of the "conspiracy

 that started with Hariri's assassination."


 Lahoud, in a statement broadcast on Lebanese television stations, vowed to find the culprits and urged

 unity among the Lebanese, already divided between pro- and anti-Syrian camps.


 Anti-Syrian Parliamentary leader Saad Hariri interrupted a press conference to accuse the Syrian regime

 of "trying to kill every free person" in Lebanon.


 "The cycle (of killings) has resumed," he said.


 He was referring to a spate of assassinations and attempted assassinations in the past two years,

 including the killing of his own father, five-time Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, in a massive bomb blast on

 the Beirut seafront in Feburary last year.

 In an interview with CNN a short while later, Hariri hailed Gemayel as "a friend, a brother to all of us"

 and appeared to break down after saying: "we will bring justice to all those who killed him."

 Premier Fouad Saniora summoned the ministers for an emergency cabinet meeting following Gemayel's

 mid-afternoon murder.

 Saniora warned that the murder "will not terrorize us," vowing "not to let the criminals control Lebanon's



 Dubbing Gemayel "the prince of youth," Saniora also urged the Lebanese to stay united in order to

 safeguard Lebanon.


 After news bulletins announced the murder, panic spread across the capital where car horns honked

 amid giant traffic jams and many people were seen rushing home.


 Street side garbage containers were set afire by angry protesters following the assassination. Angry

 Christian protesters also burned tires in Ashrafiyeh.

 Gemayel's fatal shooting will certainly heighten the political tension in Lebanon, where Hizbullah has

 threatened to topple the government if it does not get a bigger say in cabinet decision making.

 Gemayel, the son of former President Amin Gemayel, was a member of the Phalange party and

 supporter of the anti-Syrian parliamentary majority, which is locked in a power struggle with pro-Syrian

 factions led by Hizbullah.

 Gemayel is the fifth anti-Syrian figure to be assassinated in the past two years in Lebanon. Following

 Hariri's assassination, the journalist and activist Samir Kassir and former Communist Party leader George

 Hawi were killed in separate car bombings in June last year. And lawmaker and An Nahar newspaper

 general manager Gebran Tueni was killed in a car bombing in December.

 Gemayel was first elected to parliament in 2005 and was believed to be the youngest legislator, where

 anti-Syrian groups dominate.

 He hailed from a prominent family of politicians. His father, Amin, served as president between 1982 and

 1988 and his grandfather, the late Pierre Gemayel, led the right-wing Christian Phalange Party that

 fielded the largest Christian militia during the 1975-90 civil war between Christians and Muslims. He was

 also the nephew of president-elect Bashir Gemayel, who was murdered in 1982 at the height of the civil


 Pierre was a rising star in the party and expected to carry the mantle of the political family to the next