3. Wide of Lebanese prime minister Najib Mikati before news conference
4. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Najib Mikati, Lebanese Prime Minister:
"After years of waiting, the International General Prosecutor issued an indictment and showed information that was gathered by the international investigations and accused members of being involved in the crime."
5. Cutaway Lebanese flag
6. SOUNDBITE (Arabic) Najib Mikati, Lebanese Prime Minister:
"We are today in front of a new reality that requests a wise approach and putting the supreme interest of the country, civil peace, our national unity and knowing the truth above all concerns. So we will deal with responsibility and reality with this incident, starting from that the accusations whatever its sources are not verdicts and the accusations need real and undoubted proves and any accused person is innocent until its accusation is proved."
Lebanon's prime minister Najib Mikati said national unity, peace and truth should trump all other concerns, after a United Nations-backed court investigating the 2005 assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri delivered an indictment and four arrest warrants on Thursday.
The UN tribunal's decision marks the latest turn in a case that has transformed this Arab nation and brought down the government earlier this year.
At a news conference in Beirut, Mikati said it demanded "a wise approach and putting the supreme interest of the country, civil peace, our national unity and knowing the truth above all concerns."
The names of the accused were not released, but a Lebanese official said at least one member of the Iran-backed militant group Hezbollah is among those indicted.
The official saw the arrest warrants that were issued on Thursday and gave the names to The Associated Press. He spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter.
One of the people named is Mustafa Badr-Eddine, believed to have been Hezbollah's deputy military commander.
He is the brother-in-law of the late Hezbollah military commander Imad Mughniyeh.
Many fear the indictment of Hezbollah members could lead to street protests and plunge the violence-wracked country back into a new crisis.
The long-awaited indictment was confirmed by the office of Hariri's son, Saad.
According to tribunal rules, Lebanese authorities now have 30 days to serve the indictments on suspects or execute arrest warrants.
If they fail, the court can then order the indictment published and advertised in local media.
Saad Hariri also served as Lebanon's prime minister, but he was forced from office in January, when Hezbollah and its allies toppled his government in a conflict over the tribunal.
The group, which is also backed by Syria, fiercely denies any role in the killing and says the tribunal is a conspiracy by Israel and the United States.
The dispute over the investigation encapsulates Lebanon's most explosive conflicts: the role of Hezbollah, the country's most powerful political and military force; the country's dark history of sectarian divisions and violence; and Lebanon's fraught relationship with neighbouring Syria.
Rafik Hariri was killed along with 22 other people in a massive truck bombing along Beirut's waterfront on February 14, 2005.
The indictment raises concerns of a possible resurgence of violence that has blighted this tiny Arab country of four million people for years, including a devastating 1975-1990 civil war and sectarian battles between Sunnis and Shiites in 2008.