BEIRUT, Lebanon (BP) -- Drops of dried blood lead like bread crumbs up three flights of stairs to a shrapnel-shredded apartment, perhaps 40 yards from the site of a car bombing that killed Lebanon's top intelligence chief Oct. 19 -- and threatened to destroy the country's shaky stability.
The Beirut apartment belongs a friendly Maronite Catholic named Aboud who lives with his adult son Charles. Three days after the bombing, they offer figs to visitors, along with a tour of their damaged home: gaping holes left in a bedroom wall by metal fragments from the explosion, broken windows, door frames blown inward by the blast. Pictures of Maronite Catholic saints on the walls remain unharmed, which Aboud regards as a miracle.
Their pockmarked verandah offers a clear view of the crater left by the car bomb in Beirut's Ashrafiyeh district. A few blackened husks of cars lie nearby. The side street where the attack occurred sits silent, sealed off and guarded by Lebanese soldiers and police.
On other streets in the area, however, the bustle already has returned. People come and go, drink coffee in cafes, sweep up broken glass and debris from the blast into small mountains for removal. For their part, Aboud and Charles are thankful to be unhurt, unlike others in their building injured by shattering glass and shrapnel. They say it's time to get back to normal life -- or what passes for normal in Beirut's cauldron of contending religious sects and armed political groups.
"Welcome to Lebanon," Charles says with a wry grin.
But the Lebanese version of normal might not return so quickly this time, or return at all.
"Times are very tense here," says a veteran Christian worker and observer of Lebanon's political scene. "Some are comparing it to times near the end of [Lebanon's] civil war in the late 1980s. Only God knows which way things will turn, but the whole Middle East is changing faster than we could ever imagine. I think many people here feel that things internally are continuing to worsen and that the strife going on next door is coming here in increasing measure." Read More