Missing Hezbollah Critic Found Killed in His Car in Lebanon
(Bloomberg) -- A prominent critic of the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah was found dead in his car Thursday after he was reported missing the night before.
Caretaker Interior Minister Mohammed Fahmi told a local television channel that Lokman Slim was assassinated. State-run National News Agency said he’d been shot four times in the head and once in his back. He was found in his vehicle in south Lebanon, a stronghold of the Iran-backed Hezbollah and its allies.
Slim, 58, was a Shiite activist who advocated a secular and inclusive society. A newspaper affiliated with Hezbollah, Al-Akhbar, has denounced his criticism of the group and had accused him of promoting U.S. and Israeli policy against it.
Hezbollah on Thursday condemned the killing in a statement carried by the official National News Agency, calling on authorities to find and punish those behind it.
President Michel Aoun asked the state prosecutor to begin an investigation into the killing of Slim and quickly reveal the perpetrators.
Under sanction by the U.S. and Gulf countries, Hezbollah is a powerful military and political force in Lebanon and is a proxy for Iran in its conflict with Israel. Hezbollah fighters, funded and trained by Iran, have also propped up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and have been engaged in the war in Yemen. Those activities and more hurt Hezbollah’s popularity in Lebanon and elsewhere in the region.
Slim’s murder recalls the wave of assassinations that targeted politicians and journalists who were vocal critics of Syria, Iran and Hezbollah following the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Last year, a United Nations-backed court found a single Hezbollah operative guilty in that bombing attack, but found no evidence the group’s leadership was directly involved.
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