Uneasy calm prevails in Beirut

"Hezbollah has staged a coup in Beirut similar to Hamas' coup in Gaza," said An-Nahar.

Uneasy calm prevails in Beirut

An uneasy calm prevailed Saturday over west Beirut, one day after Hezbollah gunmen seized control of the predominantly Sunni sector of the Lebanese capital.

Traffic was lighter than normal, but Beirut residents could be seen venturing out of their homes to checking on their shops, cars and businesses, and civil defence teams were seen cleaning debris from streets.

Most of the Beirut streets were littered with bullet casings. Although most gunmen were gone from the streets, the Lebanese army was out in full force and some streets remained blocked.

Supermarkets and banks opened their doors and were visited by a rush of people who had not ventured out in days.

"I am buying vegetables and bread for my family, because i feel the conflict has not ended yet," said Munir Halwani, a Sunni resident of Beirut said.

"This is the first time I leave my home since Thursday night," said Halwani.

According to one Beirut banker, many customers were withdrawing US dollars from their accounts.

At least 20 people were reported killed around Lebanon since Wednesday - the worst sectarian bloodshed since the 1975-1990 civil war.

The unrest led to urgent international appeals for calm as Arab foreign ministers prepared to hold an emergency meeting on the crisis on Sunday amid regional Sunni Muslim fears about Shiite Iran's influence in Lebanon.

The Lebanese daily An-Nahar daily on Saturday quoted an official source as saying "Hezbollah has staged a coup in Beirut similar to Hamas' coup in Gaza," referring to the Palestinian Islamist movements takeover of the Gaza Strip from the Palestinian Authority in June 2007.

Last Mod: 10 Mayıs 2008, 11:26
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