Christian Foes Battle With Artillery, Rockets in Beirut : Lebanon: The fighting apparently was prompted by the army’s attempts to restrict ports.

From Reuters

Rival Christian forces blasted each other with artillery, tank, and rocket fire Thursday as rescue workers searched for victims trapped under the rubble of earlier shelling in the Lebanese capital.

Fighters loyal to Maj. Gen. Michel Aoun, commander of the Lebanese army, and the Lebanese Forces militia traded heavy fire for more than two hours for the fourth day running.

Hospital sources said at least one person was killed and 20 were wounded. The fierce fighting Wednesday killed 28 people and wounded 45 in six hours.

The fighting apparently was prompted by Aoun’s attempts to impose restrictions on ports controlled by the Lebanese Forces.


On Thursday, shells and rockets set several Beirut buildings ablaze, but firefighters waited for relative calm before going out to battle the flames. Security sources said shells were fired at the rate of four a minute.

Tens of thousands of people raced to underground shelters as explosions rocked the battered city. Scores of streets across these neighborhoods were emptied immediately after the noise and shocks of the first barrages from the artillery.

Shortly before the new bout erupted, rescue teams dug out the bodies of five members of one family, all killed when what is believed to have been an artillery shell crashed into their residence in predominantly Christian East Beirut.

The shelling engulfed several districts of East Beirut, including Dora, where a factory burned after being hit. There was no word of casualties among the workers.

“The fire is still burning out of control. I can see thick black smoke billowing into the sky,” a witness said.

Hundreds of cars packed with people poured out of the Christian area.

Tens of thousands of people have fled since the end of January, when the war for control of the Christian enclave between Aoun and Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea erupted. Since then, nearly 1,000 people have been killed and thousands more wounded.

Gen. Aoun has been adamantly demanding that Syria immediately pull out its 40,000 troops stationed in Lebanon.