A car bomb went off around 9:45 a.m. Friday morning in downtown Beirut. The explosion happened just behind the Four Seasons Hotel and in the area of the multi-building Starco office block. Former Finance Minister and aide to former Prime Minister Saad Hariri, Mohammad Chatah, was among six people confirmed dead in the blast. Chatah served as Lebanon's ambassador to the US from 1997 to 2000. The Ministry of Health says 71 people were injured in the blast. ان اغتيال محمد شطح والابرياء الذين سقطوا في قلب بيروت هو عمل ارهابي يتطلّب اقصى درجات الوحدة الوطنيّة. TS Mohamad Chatah was a wise, tolerant, smart patriot. His courage not that he knew risks but that he believed Lebanon worth taking them for. اننا ندين هذا الاغتيال الذي استهدف شخصية سياسية واكاديمية معتدلة وراقية آمنت بالحوار ولغة العقل والمنطق وحق الاختلاف في الرأي صورة لبطاقة الوزير شطح التي وجدت في مكان الانفجر في بيروت. pic.twitter.com/kNeH28M89c #Hezbollah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 yrs.
Follow our live blog below for the latest details.
In a wrap-up of today's live blog, the smoke has barely settled, but here's five theories already making the rounds about Mohammad Chatah's assassination.
Take a look at some of the most powerful photos we've gathered today of the blast site.
A photo taken in the aftermath of Friday's Starco blast shows a huge crater where the car bomb went off. (Reuters Photo via Twitter)
Prime Minister Designate Tammam Salam Tweets that Lebanon "must show unity in the face of today's act of terrorism."
In a message posted on his Facebook page Friday, former Prime Minister Saad Hariri called Chatah's assassination a "new terrorist message to the free Lebanese people of the Future Movement and March 14. It is a [message] of hate addressed to any person who believes in the message of late PM Rafik Hariri and who calls for the restitution of [power in the country to be handed over to] the state alone.
Terrorists and criminals are using explosions and car bombs and other tools of hatred to catch Lebanon's free men, one after the other."
In addition, in a reference to Hezbollah, Hariri also writes that those who do not want to participate in the Special Tribunal for Lebanon are the same people who killed Chatah.
A source close to Chatah, tells NOW Media that Tarek Badr, a bodyguard for Chatah, is among the dead.
The European Union Ambassador to Lebanon Angelina Eichhorst, who last met with Chatah on Saturday, expressed his relentless work for the good of the country.
Judge Saqr tells media the explosives set off outside the Starco complex weighed between 50 and 60 kilograms.
Reports indicating that fighting is breaking out in Chatah's hometown of Tripoli following word of his assassination.
The National News Agency is reporting that Lebanese commissioner to the Military Court judge Saqr Saqr is now inspecting the scene of the blast.
A photograph circulating on Twitter appears to show medical personnel investigating the bomb site.
UK Ambassador to Lebanon Tom Fletcher takes to Twitter, saying Chatah was courageous and believed in taking risks for Lebanon.
Caretaker PM Najib Mikati has sent out a message on Twitter condemning the assassination of Chatah, calling him a moderate political figure who believed in the language of reason, logic and the right to voice differing opinions.
Local media is commenting on possible motives behind assassination and linking his death to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon, the trial set up to investigate and prosecute the individuals behind the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.
Take a look at some raw video footage taken shortly after the blast
Chatah's ID was reportedly recovered at the site of the blast.
According to the National News Agency, Chatah’s advisor was also killed in this morning's blast.
According to the Lebanese Red Cross, at the scene of the blast, five people are confirmed dead and 15 injured.
Hariri aide Mohammad Chatah, who was reportedly killed in the blast, was tweeting as recently as an hour ago. This was his final tweet:
Lebanese media is reporting that former minister Mohammad Chatah, an adviser to former Prime Minister and Future Party leader Saad Hariri, was the target of the blast.
According to Future TV, the bomb targeted a March 14 official. His name has not yet been revealed. The television station is also reporting four deaths.
The photo below, taken in Dbayeh, shows a mushroom-like cloud produced after the blast.
A photo being circulated on Twitter shows a car damaged in the explosion.
Future TV is on the scene, and reporting casualties.
Here's a look at some of the first pictures from the scene:
ان اغتيال محمد شطح والابرياء الذين سقطوا في قلب بيروت هو عمل ارهابي يتطلّب اقصى درجات الوحدة الوطنيّة. TS— Tammam Salam (@SalamTammam) December 27, 2013
Mohamad Chatah was a wise, tolerant, smart patriot. His courage not that he knew risks but that he believed Lebanon worth taking them for.— Tom Fletcher (@HMATomFletcher) December 27, 2013
اننا ندين هذا الاغتيال الذي استهدف شخصية سياسية واكاديمية معتدلة وراقية آمنت بالحوار ولغة العقل والمنطق وحق الاختلاف في الرأي— Najib Mikati (@Najib_Mikati) December 27, 2013
صورة لبطاقة الوزير شطح التي وجدت في مكان الانفجر في بيروت. pic.twitter.com/kNeH28M89c— صوت طرابلس الحر (@tripolinews2013) December 27, 2013
#Hezbollah is pressing hard to be granted similar powers in security & foreign policy matters that Syria exercised in Lebanon for 15 yrs.— Mohamad B Chatah (@mohamad_chatah) December 27, 2013