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Bomb Finds Another Hariri Investigator in Lebanon

(Updated) Just south of Beirut, Lebanon, Lieutenant Colonel Samir Shehadeh's two-car motorcade was struck by a remote controlled bomb, killing four of his aides and bodyguards while leaving Shehadeh seriously wounded, but alive.

Four Lebanese security officers died and four others were injured in an attack south of Beirut on an investigator who was involved in the inquiry into the killing of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, police said.

Lieutenant Colonel Samir Shehadeh, the officer targeted in today's attack, suffered minor injuries to his legs, a police official, who declined to be identified, said in a phone interview from Beirut. Some of the injured are in critical condition, he said. A bomb blew up as their two jeeps passed in the town of Rmeileh, police and the Interior Ministry said.

Shehadeh helped to arrest four Lebanese security officials suspected of taking part in the truck bombing that killed Hariri and 22 others in the Lebanese capital in February 2005. Opposition politicians allege Syria had a role in Hariri's death. Interior Minister Ahmad Fatfat said the ``mechanism'' in today's bomb was similar to the remote-control device that killed Hariri.

Fatfat said Shehadeh's role in the Hariri investigation was probably the motive for the attack.

"He was so involved in the Hariri assassination investigation, and in the arrest of the four security heads,'' the Lebanese minister said in an interview.

If his involvement in the Hariri investigation is the motivating factor, as appears, then the attempt on Shehadeh's life is likely Syria's answer to the Lebanese who, having endured many assassination attempts, have asked Syria, "Who is Next?"

UPDATE: Another possible motive is suggested by Fatfat in an article from the UK's Times Online

Ahmed Fatfat, the Interior Minister, told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation that the blast was caused by a roadside bomb loaded with nails. He said that it targeted the car normally driven by Colonel Shehade, who was traveling in the other vehicle at the time.

Mr Fatfat did not say who might have been behind the attack but said it could have been aimed at Lebanese security forces, who are deploying to south Lebanon under a UN-brokered cease-fire deal that ended a month of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas.

This by no means would clear Syrian involvement or even diminish the likelihood. Unless there are new developments brewing in the seemingly dormant Hariri probe (essentially dead on arrival since Mehlis' exit), the latter would seem a much more plausible motive.

LEBANESE UPDATE: From Lebanese sources, the focus shifts back to the Hariri Probe as the prime motivator. From the Lebanese an-Nahar newspaper (whose founder, Gebran Tueni, was assassinated for his anti-Syrian positions after Hariri's assassination):

The sources said Shehade had received threats because of his work in the Hariri probe.

Shehade's assassination attempt came two weeks before Chief U.N. investigator Serge Brammertz is due to submit his second report on the Hariri murder.

The same text appears in Lebanon's Ya Libnan with additional photos, including the wounded Shehadeh being removed from his damaged vehicle.