Shiite Gunmen Seize Control of Beirut Neighborhoods

[AP/International Herald Tribune] Shiite opposition gunmen seized control of several Beirut neighborhoods from Sunni foes loyal to the U.S.-backed government on Friday, in street battles that left 11 dead, security officials said. The TV station of top Sunni politician Saad Hariri's Future Movement was forced off the air, and the offices of the affiliated al-Mustaqbal newspaper were set ablaze. Shiite gunmen roamed unopposed through the deserted streets of neighborhoods once dominated by supporters of Hariri and the government. Dozens of cars and shops had been damaged by the fighting. About 100 Hizbullah gunmen in camouflage uniforms and black flak jackets marched down the Muslim sector's main commercial Hamra Street. Dozens of fighters from the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, a Hizbullah ally, also appeared in the streets off Hamra, some masked and carrying rocket-propelled grenade launchers. The army has largely avoided getting involved in the street battles.

2008-05-09 01:00:00

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