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Bomb Plot Against Maronite Catholic Patriarch, Other Lebanese Leaders Thwarted

Michel Samaha, Lebanon's former information minister and an ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been arrested on allegations of planning bomb attacks that would have coincided with the visit of Maronite Catholic Patriarch Béchara Boutros Raï to a Sunni Muslim area of Lebanon.

One car bomb was reportedly set to detonate as the patriarch was passing near a Muslim politician's home. Other political and religious leaders were also to be targeted.

"God protected this region from bombings that were planned by the [powers] of evil," Patriarch Raï said.

Melkite Greek Catholic Patriarch Grégoire III Laham initially condemned the "abusive way" in which Samaha, a Catholic layman, "was arrested and the lack of respect for the sanctity of the home and the dignity of the family."

Asked whether the planned papal visit to Lebanon in September would still take place, Patriarch Raï said, "Of course the visit will go ahead."


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