Hezbollah, in a statement released late Thursday, deplored the murder of 58-year-old Slim, demanding that security and judiciary officials launch a swift investigation and reveal the circumstances surrounding the incident, and punish the culprits.
The resistance movement called on government authorities to “combat crimes that have spread around Lebanon, and which have been exploited politically and by the media at the expense of domestic security and stability.”
Lebanese security and forensic officials, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with regulations, said Slim’s body was found in his car on a rural road near the southern village of Addoussieh on Thursday morning, with multiple wounds from gunshots fired at close range.
Afif Khafajeh, a coroner who inspected Slim’s body, said there were several bullets in the corpse — three in the head, one in the chest and one in the back.
A security official at the scene said Slim’s ID card, phone and gun were missing. His phone was later found on the side of a road.
He had been missing since late Wednesday and his family had posted social media messages looking for him.
His killing has raised fears that Lebanon’s political tensions could turn into a new wave of assassinations. The small Mediterranean country has a history of political crimes and violence.
Slim was one of the most prominent Lebanese intellectuals to be gunned down since journalist Samir Kassir known for his anti-Syrian writings was assassinated when a bomb exploded in his car on June 2, 2005.
Anti-Syrian groups, most notably Samir Geagea’s Lebanese Forces (LF), were quick to blame Damascus and its Lebanese allies, alleging the involvement of then president Emile Lahoud who was Syria’s greatest supporter in Lebanon.
In the past, several Lebanese political figures described as critics of Hezbollah have suspiciously been assassinated apparently with the aim of incriminating the popular resistance movement and undermining its reputation.
Former Lebanese prime minister Rafiq Hariri was assassinated in a massive car bombing in Beirut on February 14, 2005. The terrorist act was used as a pretext by anti-resistance forces to oust Syria forces from Lebanon.
Lebanon is currently in the throes of a political crisis over the formation of a new government, with the West and the Persian Gulf Arab regimes and their allies inside the country trying to sideline Hezbollah.
Hezbollah is the most powerful resistance movement in the region, known for defeating Israel in several wars and evicting Israeli troops from southern Lebanon.
The resistance group is also helping the Syrian government fight foreign-backed terrorists and prevent the spillover of Takfiri terrorism into Lebanon.