Former Lebanese minister Mohammed Shattah, who opposed Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, was killed in an explosion that targeted his convoy in Beirut on Friday along with at least four other people, security sources said.
Shattah, a Sunni Muslim, was also an opposition figure and an adviser to former prime minister Saad al-Hariri. Sources at the explosion site said Shattah was on his way to attend a meeting when the explosion went off.
An eye witness at the scene said his car was "totally destroyed. It is a wreck."
The sound of the blast was heard across the city at around 9:40 a.m. (0740 GMT), and a plume of black smoke was seen rising in the downtown business and hotel district.
Ambulances could be seen taking victims from the area, an eye witness said. A restaurant and a coffee shop were destroyed in the blast, and several cars were on fire, the witness said, adding that there was glass everywhere and the smell of explosives filled the air.
Much of Beirut went into lockdown following the explosion, with police blocking off roads across the city. (Reuters)