Thousands Gather in Beirut for Funeral of Lebanon Security Chief Slain in Bombing

Mourners carry pictures of al-Hassan and chant anti-Syrian slogans; he will be buried alongside late PM Rafik Hairi, who was assassinated in 2005.

Thousands of mourners gathered Sunday in central Beirut for the funeral of Lebanon's intelligence chief who was slain two days earlier.

Wissam al-Hassan,47, an anti-Syrian Sunni Muslim, was assassinated in a bombing attack that killed seven other people. The attack was widely blamed on Syria.

Mourners clad in black carried pictures of al-Hassan and chanted anti-Syrian slogans. He was to be buried alongside late Prime Minister Rafik Hairi, who was assassinated in 2005.

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The funeral and a "Day of Rage" protest was due to start 1200 GMT and be attended by Lebanese officials, mostly from anti-Syria groups.

The army was patrolling across the capital and around the funeral site.

Since Hariri's death, Lebanon has been divided between a pro-Syria camp led by Shiite militant group Hezbollah and the pro-Western March 14 coalition group led by Saad Hariri, the late premier's son.

The opposition coalition blamed the pro-Syria government for the assassination and called on Prime Minister Nagib Mikati to resign.

Mikati said Saturday that he had offered to resign, but he was asked by the president to stay in order to avoid a political vacuum.

Angry protesters blocked roads across Lebanon on Saturday and vowed to continue until the government resigns.

Al-Hassan had recently uncovered a Syrian-backed plot to stir unrest in Lebanon. His investigation linked pro-Syrian politician Michel Semaha to planned bomb attacks.

Friday's attack also injured more than 80 people and caused property destruction. It revived memories of Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war and was the clearest sign so far that the conflict in Syria was engulfing its smaller neighbor.