Beirut blast: Ex-minister Mohamad Chatah buried

The BBC's Carine Torbey said Mohamad Chatah was a voice of moderation

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The funeral of the Lebanese former minister and opposition figure Mohamad Chatah, who was killed by a car bomb on Friday, has taken place in Beirut.

Tight security was in place as his body was conveyed to a city centre mosque.

Mr Chatah, a Sunni Muslim, was a staunch critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Lebanon's Shia Hezbollah movement that backs him.

On Sunday, Lebanon's president announced a $3bn (£1.8bn) grant from Sunni Saudi Arabia to support the army.

Lebanon has been hit by a wave of attacks linked to heightened Sunni-Shia tensions over the Syrian war.

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Mr Chatah's killing deprives his political camp of a key strategist. It also sends a powerful, bloody message to Mr Hariri and the anti-Assad camp in Lebanon”

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No-one has claimed responsibility for Friday's bombing, which killed six other people and injured at least 50.

Correspondents say Mr Chatah, who served as an adviser to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, was seen as a moderate in the polarised country.

'Heinous crime'

Mr Chatah will be buried by a mosque on the edge of Martyr's Square near Mr Hariri's father, former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, himself killed in a massive car bomb in 2005.

Profile: Mohamad Chatah

File photo of Mohamad Chatah
  • Former Lebanese ambassador to US
  • Close aide to assassinated ex-PM Rafik Hariri
  • Finance minister in government of Rafik Hariri's son, Saad, until Jan 2011
  • Remained senior adviser to Saad Hariri

Mr Chatah's allies, who include Christians and Muslims, called for a big funeral turnout as a political statement, the BBC's Kim Ghattas in Beirut reports.

Saad Hariri implicitly accused Hezbollah of carrying out the bombing.

He blamed "those who are hiding from international justice and who have spread the regional fire to the [Lebanese] nation".

Hezbollah rejected the accusation, calling the bombing a "heinous crime, which comes in the context of a series of crimes and explosions aimed at sabotaging the country".

Syria also denied any involvement in the attack.

Mr Chatah was on his way to a meeting of the anti-Syrian March 14 bloc, led by Saad Hariri, when his convoy was hit.

The bomb went off at 09:00 (07:00 GMT) between the Starco Centre and Phoenicia Hotel, not far from the Lebanese parliament building.

Mourners at the funeral of Mohamad Chatah in Beirut, 29 December 2013 The coffin was carried through Martyrs' Square in central Beirut
Mourners at the funeral of Mohamad Chatah in Beirut, 29 December 2013 Six others were killed in the explosion that claimed Mohamad Chatah's life
Wrecked cars, Beirut 27 Dec 13 Friday's powerful blast sent black smoke billowing over central Beirut

The blast damaged several buildings and set several cars ablaze.

A 16-year-old who died in the attack will also be buried in Beirut on Sunday.

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