BEIRUT (AP) — Gunmen assassinated a prominent Syrian pro-government figure at his home in southern Lebanon on Wednesday in the latest spillover of Syria's civil war into its smaller neighbor, security officials said.
Mohammed Darrar Jammo was gunned down inside his home in the coastal town of Sarafand, said the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations. His body was riddled with nearly 30 bullets, they said.
Syria's civil war has deeply affected the Lebanese, whose loyalties are split between supporters and opponents of Syrian President Bashar Assad. Clashes between pro and anti-Syrian groups in Lebanon have left scores of people dead in the past months.
Jammo, a political analyst who often appeared on Arab TV stations, was one of Assad's strongest defenders. He was frequently seen on television talk shows, shouting at opposition figures and calling them "traitors."
Some in the opposition referred to him as "shabih," a term used for pro-government gunmen.
The Lebanese security officials said the 44-year-old Jammo was married to a Lebanese woman. His daughter was with him at the time of the attack and was later rushed to hospital suffering from shock, they said.
The officials said a Lebanese man was detained near Jammo's house shortly after the shooting and was being questioned.
Hours earlier, a roadside bomb struck an SUV carrying Hezbollah members near Lebanon's border with Syria on Tuesday, wounding at least two people.
The Lebanese militant Hezbollah group has been playing a major role in Syria's conflict, fighting on the side of Assad's forces.
Sarafand, the town where Jammo was killed, is in the predominantly Shiite southern Lebanon and Assad enjoys wide support among the local people there.
Assassinations of politicians, army officers and journalists are not uncommon in Syria but the killing in Lebanon of a Syrian figure is a rare incident.
Last July, a bombing during a meeting of Cabinet ministers at the Syrian national security building in the Syrian capital, Damascus, killed top four officials, including the defense minister and his deputy, who was Assad's brother-in-law. That attack also wounded the interior minister.
In 2011, former Syrian vice president Shibli al-Aisamy, who became one of the country's most prominent dissidents, was kidnapped in Lebanon while visiting his daughter and is believed to have been secretly imprisoned by the Syrian regime.