Cairo: The killing of Lebanese political activist Luqman Salim has ignited fears in Lebanon that the country may plunge into more assassinations amid political and financial fragility.
Salim, 58, was a vociferous critic of Iran-backed Hezbollah group. He was Thursday found dead inside his car in southern Lebanon.
“Luqman’s killing is a shock for the free people and defenders of their homeland,” head of the Lebanese Phalangist Party Samy Al Jamil said.
“Lebanon is hijacked. It is a hostage that needs to free itself and to get support from all friends to restore its freedom,” he told Al Arabiya television.
“The free people in Lebanon are in peril. We can’t go continue on our own because the battle is per se related to human rights,” he added.
Lebanese President Michel Aoun has ordered an urgent investigation into Luqman’s murder.
But Jamil does not expect much from such an inquiry, saying previous probes into similar attacks had gone nowhere. “The probe into the assassination of Rafik Al Hariri only reached an outcome because it was in the hands of an international tribunal while the Lebanese judiciary is unable to deliver fair verdicts,” he said.
In February 2005, former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Al Hariri was killed along with 21 others in a bombing that targeted his motorcade in Beirut.
Last December, a UN-backed court sentenced in absentia a convicted Hezbollah member to five terms of life imprisonment for involvement in Al Hariri’s assassination.
Salim’s killing came as Lebanon is roiled by a political crisis compounded by a deadly explosion at Beirut port last August and an outbreak of the COVID-19 straining its dilapidated health system.
Lebanon’s prime minister-designate Saad Al Hariri described Salim as “a new martyr on the road of freedom and democracy” in Lebanon.
“His assassination is not detached from the context of previous assassinations,” he tweeted.
Other Lebanese politicians voiced apprehensions over the situation in the country. “The treacherous, cowardly hands anew kill opposition opinion leaders,” tweeted Lebanese lawmaker Bilal Abdullah.
“Luqman Salim is an example of political liquidation. Have we entered a new vortex of assassination? This is a question that the next days will answer,” he added.
Luqman’s killing has triggered world condemnation too. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called it a “heinous murder”
“A sad day in Lebanon as we mourn the assassination of prominent activist Lokman Slim. We condemn his heinous murder and urge Lebanese officials to hold those responsible accountable,” Blinken said in a tweet.