BEIRUT, Lebanon – Lebanon (search) admitted Monday it was far from catching those responsible for a series of bombings that killed several anti-Syrian figures this year, and badly injured a prominent TV journalist.
"We are facing some kind of phantom, a certain person or party, who are professionals and who have hatched a terrorist plot and are carrying it out," said Interior Minister Hassan Sabei (search). "As long as we have not apprehended any person, the plot will continue."
Sabei spoke after attending a meeting of Lebanon's security chiefs, chaired by Prime Minister Fuad Saniora (search).
The latest bombing occurred Sunday. Political talk show host May Chidiac (search) had just started her car when a bomb exploded, causing her to lose her left arm and left leg, in the town of Jounieh, north of Beirut. She worked for the private Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, which opposes a Syrian role in Lebanon.
Chidiac, in her 40s, was in "stable and satisfactory" condition Monday, said Dr. Ramzi Kashoush of the Hotel Dieu de France Hospital.
Numerous bombs have exploded in and around Beirut since former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri (search) and 20 others were killed in a massive blast Feb. 14. While the state has arrested eight people, including four generals, in connection with the Hariri assassination, nobody has been detained for the subsequent explosions, which have killed one anti-Syrian journalist and one politician, among others.
Sabei said the government's security agencies would intensify their efforts to gather intelligence on the bombers and to infiltrate their ring.
Lebanese students protested Monday at Notre Dame University — where Chidiac teaches journalism — and at St. Joseph University. They also mobilized for a mass demonstration in downtown Beirut on Monday night.
Telecommunications Minister Marwan Hamadeh (search) visited Chidiac in the hospital and told reporters afterward that he believed the bombers were part of the same network that seriously wounded him in a blast last year.
"They are the same ones," Hamadeh said. He has previously accused Syrian intelligence and its Lebanese allies of trying to kill him. On Monday, he reiterated his call for a purge of pro-Syrian elements in the Lebanese security services.
Saniora said Sunday the attack on Chidiac was related to the U.N. investigation into Hariri's assassination. U.N. investigators returned Friday to Lebanon after four days of questioning government officials in Syria. Chief investigator Detlev Mehlis is expected to issue his report next month.
"There is no doubt it is all related, we don't want to deny that," Saniora said. Warning of more attacks, he said: "The enemy will try a second time and a third time."
Opponents of Syria's role in Lebanon have accused remnants of the Lebanese-Syrian intelligence apparatus of being behind the Hariri assassination and subsequent bombings.
There was no immediate comment from the Syrian government on the attack. But three state-run newspapers and the official news agency prominently reported the bombing, which was also condemned by Syria's state-run Journalists' Union.
Lebanese newspapers said the attack was a strike against press freedom as well as a bid to destabilize the country ahead of the U.N. commission's findings.
"It was an attempt to assassinate all opinions, not only May Chidiac's," wrote the publisher of As-Safir (search) daily, Talal Salman.
U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan (search) called the bombing a "callous act."
A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said a magnetic fragment was found on the scene. That indicated the bomb — estimated at less than two pounds — was attached to the bottom of the vehicle before being triggered by remote control.