Related topics

Gunmen Slaughter Aoun Aide And Family

October 22, 1990 GMT

BAABDA, Lebanon (AP) _ Gunmen burst into the home of a top supporter of Christian Gen. Michel Aoun Sunday and shot him, his wife and two sons to death, police said. Only an 11- month-old girl survived.

The daybreak massacre of Dany Chamoun and his family in their suburban Beirut apartment came a week after a Syrian and Lebanese government troops crushed Aoun’s mutiny in Lebanon’s Christian enclave.

Chamoun, a Maronite Catholic and the son of late President Camille Chamoun, was one of the most outspoken critics of President Elias Hrawi and Syria’s military presence in Lebanon.

ADVERTISEMENT

He also was at odds with Christian warlord Samir Geagea, whose Lebanese Forces militia fought a four-month war with Aoun’s troops early this year for mastery of the Christian areas of east Beirut.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the slayings, which were branded by Christian and Moslem leaders alike as an attempt to block a plan to end the 15-year-old civil war.

Aoun took refuge a week ago in the French Embassy. France has granted him asylum, but the Lebanese government insists he stay and stand trial for alleged crimes, including the theft of $75 million from the state treasury.

Five uniformed gunmen, using silencer-equipped 9mm pistols, riddled Chamoun, 56; his wife, Ingrid Abdel-Noor, 35, and their sons, Tarek, 7, and Julien, 5, with bullets, according to police.

They said the 5-year-old was taken to a nearby hospital and died a short time later. Of the family, only Chamoun’s daughter, Tamara, escaped unharmed.

Reporters saw the baby being cradled by her weeping Lebanese governess at the apartment in Baabda, east of Beirut.

″I am shocked by the horrific slayings,″ Hrawi was quoted by several Beirut radio stations as saying. ″That’s a crime against the state aimed at sabotaging efforts to reunite the country and army after Aoun’s ouster.″

Radios said Hrawi made the comment in Damascus, where he is talking with Syrian President Hafez Assad on how to enforce an Arab League-brokered plan aimed at ending the civil war between Moslems and Christians.

″We have declared that the peace process is open to all to join after the end of Aoun’s mutiny and that we should bury the past and begin a new era of fraternity,″ Hrawi was quoted as saying.

″Today’s crime is a stab in the back.″

In Paris, Foreign Minister Roland Dumas expressed horror at the slayings.

″Dany Chamoun had opened a perspective toward reconciliation in Lebanon,″ Dumas said. ″It’s this chance they wanted to assassinate.″

Guards had been assigned to protect the Chamoun family around the clock. The assailants arrived at 6 a.m., as the guards were changing shifts, police said.

″The assailants snuck in at the moment of change and forced the janitor at gunpoint to climb five flights of stairs to Chamoun’s apartment,″ said a police spokesman.

The governess answered a knock at the door and the assailants burst in firing, instantly killing Chamoun and his wife, police said.

″The gunmen then shot the two sleeping sons in bed in an adjacent bedroom,″ said the spokesman, who could not be named under regulations.

The governess, who was uninjured, gave police an account of the attack. A family maid was also uninjured. Chamoun’s hunting dog was found whimpering over the bodies when rescuers arrived.

The British-educated Chamoun made his political debut soon after the outbreak of Lebanon’s civil war in 1975. He was appointed secretary of defense of his father’s rightist Christian National Liberal Party and commander of the party’s ″Tigers″ militia.

Chamoun forged friendships with Druse warlord Walid Jumblatt and Palestine Liberation Organization Chairman Yasser Arafat’s security chief, Ali Hassan Salameh, who was assassinated in Moslem west Beirut in 1979.

These friendships helped free scores of kidnap victims in Beirut’s Moslem and Christian sectors during the conflict.

Chamoun - who loved hunting, sports cars and scuba-diving - often advocated diplomacy over the gunbarrel.

″Politics sucked him in although he hated politics,″ said his former aide, Rudolf Paulikevitch.

Chamoun inherited the leadership of the Christian National Liberal Party upon the 1987 death of his father, who ruled Lebanon from 1952 to 1958.

Chamoun sought the presidency in 1988, but the Parliament was unable to meet to elect a successor and Aoun, who then was army commander, was named prime minister of a caretaker military Cabinet.

Hrawi was elected as the new president on Nov. 24, 1989, but Aoun rejected the election, and called Hrawi a ″Syrian puppet.″ Aoun contended that his three-man Cabinet remained the only legitimate authority in the country.

Hrawi, Aoun and Chamoun are Maronites, the largest Christian sect and the dominant power in Lebanon since it gained independence from France in 1943.

The Syrian army entered the country in 1976 under an Arab League mandate to smother the civil war, now in its 16th year. The Syrians currently maintain 40,000 troops controlling more than 70 percent of Lebanon’s territory.

Chamoun was dismayed when Aoun fled his command headquarters in the presidential palace in Baabda minutes after the air-supported attack of Hrawi’s troops and the Syrian army began Oct 13.

″I can’t believe the general has done this to us,″ Chamoun said the next day. ″May God help us.″

Chamoun’s first wife, Patti Morgan, an Australian-born former fashion model, lives in London with their daughter Tracy, 30, family friends said.