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One of the founding members of Hezbollah was killed by gunmen near his home in Beirut, according to a statement issued by the organization. Hussein al-Laqis was reportedly shot at close range in the parking garage of his apartment last night, and succumbed to the wounds early on Wednesday morning. Hezbollah said al-Laqis spent "all his life and youth in the noble resistance" and blamed Israel for the attack in a statement.

Al Jazeera has a translation from the original Arabic: 

The Israeli enemy is naturally directly to blame. This enemy must shoulder complete responsibility and repercussions for this ugly crime and its repeated targeting of leaders and cadres of the resistance.

The New York Times reports that one group, Free Sunnis of Baalbek, took responsibility for the attack, and Israeli official Yigal Palmor denied the accusation, saying: 

Israel has nothing to do with this incident. These automatic accusations are an innate reflex with Hezbollah. They don't need evidence, they don't need facts, they just blame anything on Israel.

Though Hezbollah and Israel are long-time enemies, Hezbollah has recently opened itself up to other aggressors by sending soldiers to Syria to fight alongside President Bashar al-Assad's forces in his civil war. Hezbollah, a Shi'ite organization, aligns with Assad and Iran, while Sunni nations in the region sympathize with and aid rebels battling the Syrian government. Yesterday, Hezbollah accused majority-Sunni Saudi Arabia of bombing the Iranian embassy in Beirut last month. Earlier, Hezbollah had blamed Israel for the attack. 

World powers fear the continuing spill of sectarian strife over Syria's borders, as the Syrian civil-war worsens and evidence that Assad has committed war crimes against his people mounts. Thought Syrian rebel sympathizers may be suspected, no one has yet claimed responsibility for al-Laqis's death.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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