Thousands Flee as Beirut Is Pounded by Artillery; 9 Die

From Times Wire Services

Thousands of panicky civilians fled Beirut on Thursday after their neighborhoods were blasted in artillery duels between Christians and Syrians. Nine people were reported killed and 56 wounded.

A police spokesman said some sites were pummeled by shells at a rate of 30 a minute.

The latest casualties raised the toll to 429 people killed and 1,748 wounded since mid-March, according to police.

A police spokesman reported a heavy exodus of civilians from both West and East Beirut to safer areas in southern Lebanon, the Bekaa Valley in the east and the mountains northeast of the capital.

"Thousands of cars packed with families headed south from West Beirut," the spokesman said.

A group of 34 Spaniards evacuated by boat arrived in Larnaca, Cyprus, earlier in the day.

Acting Premier Salim Hoss, who heads a Muslim Cabinet vying for power with the Christian Cabinet led by Maj. Gen. Michel Aoun, urged Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Algeria to speed up Arab League efforts to reach a cease-fire.

Hoss issued his appeal "in the name of innocent and displaced people and broken spirits" to put an end to the fighting and open the way for a political dialogue between all the Lebanese parties."

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