A powerful car bomb blast rocked Beirut's Christian quarter of Ashrafiya on Friday, killing Wissam al-Hassan, head of the Information Branch of intelligence services, and pushing Lebanon one step closer to renewed sectarian violence (see BBC report).
The killing of the powerful security chief was shocking even for a country with such a rich tradition of assassinations of public figures, and comes at the time when ordinary Lebanese watch helplessly as their country slides ever deeper into the crisis in neighboring Syria.
Hassan was a known critic of Syrian influence in Lebanon, and outraged members of his Sunni community immediately pointed the finger at the Syrian regime and its allies in the Lebanese governing coalition - chiefly the Shiite movement of Hezbollah.
Beirut was largely calm but tense on Tuesday, following clashes between Sunni gunmen and the Lebanese army. The northern city of Tripoli has still seen sporadic exchange of sniper fire between the majority Sunni neighborhoods and armed men from the minority Alawite sect, which is backed by Syria.
What was Hassan's role in Lebanese politics and how was he linked to the conflict in Syria?
Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images.