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Lebanon to seek international help on security

 BEIRUT (Reuters) – Lebanon will ask the United States and France to help train its security forces following a string of bombings and assassinations that have fueled fears the country is sliding back into chaos.  Prominent anti-Syrian news anchor May Chidiac was seriously wounded when her car exploded north of Beirut on Sunday, raising fears of more violence as Lebanon awaits the findings of a U.N. probe into the killing of a former prime minister.A close aide to Prime Minister Fouad Siniora told Reuters the government would ask the Americans and French to help instruct its security services and provide logistical support."The issue has been on the government’s agenda and a list of needs has been made, but it is more urgent now after Sunday’s attack," he said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

Siniora said on Sunday he had asked the U.S. embassy for assistance in Chidiac’s case. An embassy spokesperson said the United States would respond positively to the government’s requests for help but declined to elaborate.Twelve explosions have rocked Lebanon since a truck bomb killed former Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri and 20 others on February 14. Many Lebanese blame Hariri’s killing and the ensuing blasts on Syria which has repeatedly denied any involvement. The killing of Hariri plunged Lebanon into its worst crisis since the end of the 1975-1990 civil war.

 Syria ended its 29-year military presence in Lebanon in April amid global pressure and Lebanese protest following Hariri’s killing.


Sunday’s blast piled pressure on the government to tighten its grip on security ahead of the final U.N. report into Hariri’s murder, expected next month.

"We are facing some sort of a ghost, a network of professionals that has a terrorist plan to achieve," Interior Minister Hassan al-Sabaa told a news conference.

"These attacks will not force the country to go back. We will improve intelligence-sharing and coordination among all security agencies to stop these terrorist attacks."

Political bickering has stalled the appointment of security chiefs to replace three generals who lost their jobs in the aftermath of the killing and have since been arrested on the recommendation of chief U.N. investigator Detlev Mehlis.

They are now charged with murder in connection with planning the attack on Hariri.

Sabaa said the security agencies were doing their best but had so far made no progress in finding those behind the subsequent bombings that have raised fears of a return to Lebanon’s bloody past.

"The weakness of the current security services in dealing with such crimes … led to all these explosions," Christian opposition leader Michel Aoun told LBC television.

"It is unbelievable that until now there are no suspects in these attacks."

(Additional reporting by Ayat Basma)