BEIRUT: MP Butros Harb said Thursday he survived an attempted assassination after two detonators were found on top of the elevator inside the Beirut building housing his office.
"This is not a message and not a matter of intimidation but an attempted assassination that [did not succeed],” Harb said in a statement, adding that the country cannot continue in its current chaotic state.
“It is time for the issue [of chaos] to be resolved in a serious manner. This issue should be discussed not because I was targeted by this attempt ... we should sound the alarm and say the country cannot continue this way,” he said.
Head of Beirut police Brig. Gen. Deeb Tobayli confirmed Thursday that the detonators were found on top of the elevator in the building, which is located in Badaro, Beirut but denied the presence of an explosive device as reported earlier by local media.
The country's top three leaders, President Michel Sleiman, Prime Minister Najib Mikati and Speaker Nabih Berri, along with local and international figures condemned what they described as the attempted assassination of Harb.
Former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, U.N. official Jeffrey Feltman and EU Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst telephoned Harb voicing condemnation of the incident, as did several Lebanese parliamentarians.
Interior Minister Marwan Charbel's office said the minister phoned Harb and told him that the new means to assassinate politicians is to blow up their electronic elevators.
According to Harb's press office, members of his security team deemed the behavior of a group of people to be suspicious and moved to detain one of them. The man produced a dagger and a fight ensued.
A number of security personnel and doctors were injured in the fight, according to Harb's press office.
The security personnel subdued the man but before they could hand him over to the police, a BMW with tinted windows arrived at the scene. An armed man claiming to be with the Lebanese Army’s intelligence department emerged from the car, pointed his gun at the suspect and ordered him to get into the car, which sped away.
Other vehicles arrived at the scene shortly thereafter but left when their occupants learned that the man had been taken away earlier. The vehicles drove away in the direction of the Beirut quarter of Tayyouneh.
Army intelligence reported that the first vehicle was stolen and that the license number was fake.
During a talk with reporters at his residence in Hazmieh, Harb voiced pessimism over the ability of the judicial investigation to unearth anything tangible.
The March 14 MP also said that Thursday’s incident and the attempted assassination of Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea in April should motivate the state to play its role and serve as an incentive for parties to lift the political cover they may be providing violators.
“With security turning into an operation requiring the consent of [political factions] and with the presence of weapons outside the jurisdiction of the state, it is only normal for the state to reach this kind of chaos,” Harb said in his statement.