Rocket landed near motorcade of Lebanon’s Saad Hariri

The former prime minister confirmed reports that a projectile exploded near his convoy earlier this month

epa08514928 (FILE) - Former Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri (in office between 2009-11 and 2016-20) speaks during a press conference held at the government palace in downtown Beirut, Lebanon, 18 October 2019 (reissued 28 June 2020). Saudi TV broadcaster Al-Hadath reported on 28 June that a missile had exploded some 500 meters (1,640 feet) away from Hariri's convoy as it was returning to Beirut following his trip to the restive Bekaa Valley on 17 June 2020.  EPA/WAEL HAMZEH
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A missile exploded near the convoy of former Lebanese prime minister Saad Hariri as he visited the eastern Bekaa Valley earlier this month, he said on Monday.

Mr Hariri said reports by Saudi-owned Al Hadath TV were generally correct. But he had wanted to refrain from public statements about the incident until police had concluded their investigation, he said.

The missile reportedly landed 500 metres from his motorcade on June 17 as his 30-vehicle convoy drove back from a meeting with Khalil Al Mais, the Bekaa's top Sunni cleric, in the eastern village of Makseh.

The apparent attack came days after clashes in Beirut sparked by Lebanon's ongoing economic and financial crisis, the worst in decades, and amid sectarian tensions.

Mr Hariri resigned in late October after nationwide protests against the country's ruling elite, who demonstrators blame for decades of corruption and mismanagement.

Al Hadath said security forces searched the area and found the remains of a missile. It said that an investigation was under way to determine whether the missile was fired from a drone or from the ground, as well as to determine the type of missile.

Lebanon's police said late on Sunday that during Mr Hariri's visit to the Bekaa, someone told security forces they had seen an object crash into the ground and explode. Police opened a secret investigation into the incident, and said that Mr Hariri's convoy was not directly attacked.

Mr Hariri’s office said the former prime minister was informed by security services of an explosion in the area on the same day.

But because "the convoy was not subjected to any attack, and to prevent any exploitation in light of the prevailing tension", Mr Hariri said he decided to remain silent and wait for the investigation to end.

Mr Hariri, like many of the country's top politicians, typically moves around Lebanon with tight security measures in place. Junctions and roads – even in the centre of Beirut – are closed at a moment's notice to allow motorcades to speed through the usually traffic-clogged streets.

Mr Hariri's father, Rafik Hariri, was assassinated on February 14, 2005, in a massive lorry bomb on a seaside road in Beirut as his convoy passed through the capital. The attack killed 21 others.

A UN-backed tribunal indicted members of Hezbollah over the assassination of the prime minister. The group denies being involved.