Lebanon’s ex-Finance Minister Mohamad Chatah and four others have been killed in a huge explosion in central Beirut.
Mohamad Chatah was an adviser to the former PM Saad Hariri, a Sunni Muslim. A car was seen in flames near government offices and the parliament.
The Syrian conflict has increased sectarian tensions in Lebanon.
The Lebanese Shia militant movement Hezbollah has sent fighters to Syria to back the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
Bashar al-Assad comes from the Alawite sect, a heterodox offshoot of Shia Islam.
Some of the Syrian rebel groups are affiliated with the Sunni Muslim al-Qaeda network.
Iran, which backs Hezbollah, saw its embassy in Beirut attacked last month.
The Beirut blast damaged several buildings near the Phoenicia Hotel and set several cars ablaze.
Dozens of people were reported injured.
Mohamad Chatah became finance minister in 2008. After Saad Hariri lost the premiership in early 2011 Mohamad Chatah served as his senior adviser.
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