A remote-controlled bomb on Tuesday wounded a senior police intelligence officer who played a key role in the investigation into the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister Rafik Hariri. Security officials said four of the officer’s aides and bodyguards were killed and five others wounded in a sophisticated attack in south Lebanon. Lieutenant Colonel Samir Shehade, deputy chief of the intelligence department in Lebanon’s national police force, was taken to a hospital in the southern port city of Sidon. His condition was stable, hospital officials said.


Interior Minister Ahmed Fatfat told the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation that the roadside bomb had been loaded with nails and had targeted a car normally driven by Shehade, who was traveling in a second vehicle at the time. The explosion occurred as Shehade’s two-vehicle police convoy drove by the village of Rmaile, which is located near Sidon. Fatfat did not say who might have been behind the attack, but said it could have been aimed at Lebanese security forces, who are deploying to south Lebanon under a UN-brokered cease-fire deal that ended a month of fighting between Israel and Hezbollah guerrillas Aug. 14.


Lebanese Army troops are supposed to deploy in the south with a beefed-up UN peacekeeping force as Israeli troops withdraw. Shehade also was involved in the arrest last August of four pro-Syrian Lebanese generals in Lebanon. The four were arrested on suspicion of involvement in the February 2005 assassination of Hariri
Security officials said Shehade had been involved in the interrogation of several witnesses in the Hariri probe, including the Syrian intelligence operative Husam Taher Husam.


The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the case, said Shehade had received threats because of his work in the case.


Hariri’s son, Saad Hariri, a prominent lawmaker in Lebanon, called the attack a terrorist act. "This is a message which we reject," he told reporters in Beirut.


The explosion Tuesday came 10 days before a UN investigator, Serge Brammertz, was to submit a report to the UN Security Council, updating his findings on the Hariri investigation.


Previous reports have implicated top Syrian and Lebanese security officials in the killing, which rocked Lebanese politics.


Syria denies any role in the Hariri slaying or subsequent bombings.


An international outcry over the murder of Hariri forced Syria, which had dominated Lebanese politics for three decades, to withdraw its troops from Lebanon in April 2005.


Since then, relations between the two neighboring countries have soured, and leaders of the anti-Syrian majority that emerged in parliamentary elections two months later have repeatedly claimed they fear for their lives.


Saad Hariri, political heir and leader of the parliamentary majority, spends most of his time in Paris for fear of assassination.


The attack Tuesday was the first since May 26, when a leader of the Palestinian group Islamic Jihad in Lebanon and his brother were killed in Sidon after a bomb was placed under their vehicle.


Lebanon was rocked by a string of attacks against prominent anti-Syrian figures following Hariri’s assassination.