- Lebanon's Justice Minister Adnan Addoum said on Friday
that authorities were hunting for twelve Australian men wanted over the
assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri.
- Addum said that all the suspects hold the Australian
passport and that six of them left Beirut for Australia hours after Monday's
deadly blast, adding that police found traces of explosives on aircraft
- Hariri was killed in a huge explosion in Beirut which
also claimed the lives of additional 16 people.
- The minister added that there are two more Australians
who tried to leave Lebanon after the assassination but missed the flight
for unknown reasons. Their location is not known.
- Interpol agreed to interrogate the twelve suspects, Addoum
- The minister didn't provide further details and it was
unclear what role the men played in the attack.
- Reports earlier this week said that the Australian government
was helping Lebanon investigate Hariri's murder.
- In other developments, Lebanon's Tourism Minister Farid
al-Khazan resigned, saying that his decision was in line with his convictions
and his "obligation to the country.
- There have been mounting calls for the whole Lebanese
cabinet to resign over Hariri's assassination.
- Also Friday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad appointed
his brother-in-law, Major-General Asef Shawkat, as head of military intelligence
to replace retiring Major-General Hassan Khalil.
- Hariris family demands probe into his murder
- Hariri's family issued a statement on Thursday calling
for launching an international investigation into his assassination.
- "We call upon the international community to promptly
take control of this issue and form an international investigation commission,
since the assassination of Rafik Hariri is a terrorist act targeting Lebanon's
stability and national unity, "Al Hariri's family said in a statement
released on Thursday.
- "We will not spare any effort or means to find the
perpetrators of this crime no matter what their affiliation is," the
- Earlier, the Lebanese leadership rejected calls to let
international experts launch the investigation, but the military judiciary
now says that Swiss experts on explosives and DNA will participate in the
- On Wednesday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State William
Burns called on Lebanon to ask for foreign help to facilitate the inquiry.
- "We believe the investigation has to be serious
and credible and those responsible have to be brought to justice swiftly
and that international expertise can be brought to help ensure this kind
of investigation," he said during his visit to Beirut to attend the
funeral of Al Hariri.
- Amid tight security Lebanon buried on Wednesday its former
Prime Minister Rafiq Al Hariri, credited with restoring the country after
the civil war.
- The former Lebanese premier was buried at the towering
Mohammed al-Amin mosque in central Beirut, the construction of which has
been funded by him.
- Al Hariri's family and political supporters asked the
Lebanese government officials not to attend the funeral.
- And while the U.S. and Israel pointed finger of suspicion
at Syria, Imad Moustapha, the Syrian ambassador to the United States, said
the Syrian government wasn't involved in Al Hariri's assassination, and
called the former Lebanese Premier a constructive moderate.
- "Why would Syria even look with hostility to a person
like Rafiq Al Hariri, who is actually helping to mediate between us and
the Lebanese opposition?" said Moustapha.