Thousands of people gathered in central Beirut on Sunday for the funeral of slain intelligence officer Wissam al-Hassan, a ceremony likely to become a rally against Syrian authorities.
Hassan, who uncovered an alleged Syrian bomb plot inside Lebanon two months ago, died in a car bomb blast that killed seven other people and wounded 80 in Beirut’s Ashrafiyeh district on Friday.
Soldiers deployed in force across Beirut in preparation for the funeral, with squads standing guard at road junctions and stopping cars from entering the downtown area.
A mosque in central Martyrs’ Square, where Hassan is due to be buried, broadcast prayers for the dead early on Sunday.
Protesters had blocked roads with burning tires and gunmen took to the streets of Beirut and Tripoli on Saturday. In the evening small groups of protesters waving Lebanese flags marched to the government offices.
Sunday’s funeral march set off from Hassan’s Internal Security Force headquarters in Ashrafiyeh, passing the site of Friday’s bombing before reaching Martyrs’ Square where he will be buried alongside former Lebanese prime minister Rafik al-Hariri, killed in a 2005 bombing on the Beirut seafront.
Samir Geagea, a Christian political leader and critic of Assad, demanded that Lebanon suspend all security and military agreements with Damascus and expel the Syrian ambassador.