May Chidiac underwent nightlong surgeries at Beirut’s Hotel Dieu Hospital and doctors said Monday she was in ‘stable but critical condition,’ recuperating in an intensive care unit from an assassination that severed her left hand and leg the day before.
“Her injuries were critical and she will remain under constant observation for the next few days,” said a pre-dawn medical bulletin read to hundreds of journalists and cameramen maintaining around-the-clock vigil at the lobby of the hospital. She also suffered a broken hip and a multiple fracture in the right leg. Her vital organs were “stable,” however.
Chidiac, 42, a leading anchorwoman at Beirut’s LBCI television network, miraculously survived a bomb blast that ripped her grey 4-wheeler when she started the engine to drive out of a parking lot in the township of Ghadir close to the LBCI headquarters in Adma off the coastal city of Jounieh north of Beirut Sunday afternoon.
She was afire behind the wheel when onlookers rushed to extract her out of the burning car and extinguish her flaming clothes and hair with bed blankets from nearby homes. She was first taken to a Jounieh clinic and then transferred in a heavily escorted ambulance to Hotel Dieu.
Police said a 4-to-5 kilogram explosive charge was planted below her seat with a detonator attached to the ignition so that it would go off once the engine is started. But An Nahar said the bomb may have been detonated by a mobile telephone signal from a short distance.
Mrs. Chidiac began her working day with a 90-minute interview on LBCI with An Nahar’s columnist Sarkis Naoum about a ‘black cloud’ hanging over Lebanon during the countdown for the U.N. report on the Feb. 14 assassination of ex-Premier Rafik Hariri.
She drove afterwards from Adma to the house of attorney at law Assaad Fares for a prolonged lunch with his family in Ghadir and then walked out to her car in a nearby parking lot to go home. She landed in hospital, instead.
The attack on Chidiac was the latest in a series of bombings across the capital in which Hariri, An Nahar’s columnist Samir Kassir and Communist ideologue George Hawi were killed. Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh and Defense Minister Elias Murr escaped separate car-bomb assassination attempts in October and July.
There has been growing speculation that the attacks would increase as the U.N. investigation into Hariri’s assassination edges toward conclusion. Chief investigator Detlev Mehlis is due to announce the outcome in a report to the Security Council Oct. 21.
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