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Wed 3 Dec 2008 01:45 AM

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New evidence fingers suspects in Hariri killing: UN report

Inquiry team asks for mandate to be extended to Feb. 28 to allow further investigations.

Fresh evidence may help identify new suspects in the assassination of former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri, a report from the UN's international inquiry team said Tuesday.

The International Independent Investigation Commission "has acquired new information that may allow it to link additional individuals to the network that carried out the assassination," said the report.

The inquiry's eleventh report on the February 2005 assassination notes UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon decision last week to have a special tribunal on Hariri's assassination begin work on March 1, 2009, and asks that its mandate be extended until Feb. 28.

The commission also made "further findings that help to identify the possible geographic origin of the suicide bomber" who targeted Hariri, the report said.

Cooperation with the commission in the ongoing investigation by the Syrian government continued to be "generally satisfactory," it added.

The commission also said it has uncovered fresh evidence to corroborate connections already made between the Hariri attack and other cases.

The killing was one of the most devastating acts of political violence to hit Lebanon since the 1975-1990 civil war, and led to the withdrawal of Syrian troops after a 29-year presence.

Hariri, a wealthy businessman who made his fortune in Saudi Arabia opposed to Syria's interference in Lebanese affairs, died after a massive explosion destroyed his armored car on Beirut's seafront on February 14, 2005. Twenty-two other people died in the attack.

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