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Lebanese Journalist Assassinated

Prominent Lebanese journalist Samir Kassir was killed in Beirut when an explosion destroyed his car. Mr. Kassir was assassinated several days before the second round of Lebanon's parliamentary elections. Mr. Kassir was known for his sharp criticism of Syria's nearly three-decade occupation of Lebanon. Lebanese opposition leaders have accused Damascus of being behind his murder, a charge that Syria has denied.

The assassination of former Lebanese Premier Rafik Hariri in Beirut in February sparked mass protests against the Syrian occupation and forced Damascus to withdraw its troops from Lebanon. His son and political heir, Saad Hariri, told reporters that he believes the same people were behind both his father's assassination and the murder of journalist Samir Kassir, adding: "And God knows what's coming." "We will not be afraid," Mr. Hariri said. "We want our freedom, we want our independence, we want our sovereignty and no one is going to stop us."

Lebanon's political opposition is calling for the resignation of pro-Syrian President Emile Lahoud. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice condemned the murder of Samir Kassir as a "heinous act":

"Obviously. . . .someone who's trying to intimidate the Lebanese people as they move through this electoral cycle. That, I think, will not happen because the Lebanese people want to build a new democracy. . . .The Lebanese people are going through a difficult period. They're going through an important period. And we have to speak out against efforts like this to intimidate them."

Secretary of State Rice called on Lebanese Prime Minister Najib Mikati to carry through on his pledge to investigate the murder of Samir Kassir fully.

The preceding was an editorial reflecting the views of the United States government.