Twenty injured in Beirut street clashes

   

Twenty people were injured in street clashes between rival political factions in Beirut on Saturday, which saw shops and cars set ablaze as rioters fought each other with stones and clubs.

 

"Eighteen people were wounded by stones and baton blows and two others were lightly wounded from shots fired during the clashes," a senior security official told AFP on Sunday.

 

Soldiers and police were out on patrol on Sunday in the Ras Al Nabah district where the fighting took place but the situation was calm.

 

Similar clashes in recent days between supporters of the Western-backed government and the Shiite-led opposition have raised tensions in a country already embroiled in its worst political crisis since the 1975-1990 civil war.

 

The security official had said the fighting involved supporters of ruling majority leader Saad Hariri and rivals in the opposition Shiite movement Amal, whose leader is parliament speaker Nabih Berri.

 

But an Amal spokesman denied that its supporters were involved.

 

Deep divisions have emerged as Lebanon grapples with a protracted political crisis that has left it without a head of state since the end of November.

 

On Thursday, mass rallies were staged by rival pro- and anti-Syrian factions in Beirut, further ratcheting up the tensions.

 

Supporters of the Western-backed government had massed to commemorate the third anniversary of the assassination of ex-premier Rafiq Hariri while thousands gathered just a few miles away for the funeral of Imad Mughnieh, one of Hezbollah's top commanders killed in a car bombing in Syria. (AFP)


 

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