Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Lebanese army increases forces in tense Beirut

From Ynet News, 5/12/06, by Reuters ....

Beruit: Several thousand soldiers deploy across town Monday, in wake of killing of pro-Syrian demonstrator and fears mass anti-government protests could turn into sectarian violence. Arab League head Moussa warns crisis could worsen

Lebanon's army deployed more soldiers in Beirut on Monday after the killing of a pro-Syrian Shiite Muslim demonstrator raised fears anti-government protests could turn into sectarian violence.

Arab League Secretary-General Amr Moussa warned the crisis could worsen and indicated he had discussed ideas for a solution with Lebanese officials during a 24-hour visit to Beirut.

Security sources said the military increased its forces in Sunni districts that Shiite protesters drive through to get to central Beirut where the Hizbullah-led opposition is holding a sit-in to try to topple the Western-backed government.

These districts saw clashes between residents and protesters on Sunday - from stone-throwing to fights with knives.

In the most serious incident, gunmen fired assault rifles at a group of protesters in a Sunni neighborhood, a stronghold for the anti-Syrian majority coalition, killing one man....

Another civil war on way
...Many politicians and observers have said the crisis could spill over into sectarian strife in a country that has gone through two civil wars in the last 50 years....

Financial crisis feared
...Many banks and businesses were closed on Monday in the downtown area, Lebanon's banking and commercial center. Business owners in the area have said a lengthy closure could devastate businesses and force employers to cut jobs.

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