05 May 2008

-Five Wounded by Gunfire in Separate Clashes, House Burnt Down

This is how a civil war usually begins!


Five people were wounded by gunfire in separate overnight clashes in Beirut and east Lebanon and security sources reported Monday that assailants set a house on fire.

The sources said three people were wounded when members of Speaker Nabih Berri's Amal movement fought it out with supporters of MP Saad Hariri's al Mustaqbal party in Beirut's Corniche Mazraa neighborhood.

They were identified as Nabil Zaidan, Mohammed Omran and a third from the al-Tal family.

Fighting soon quelled when army troops and police deployed in the area and dispersed the gunmen.

Al Mustaqbal newspaper, however, said that Omran was kidnapped and brutally beaten by Amal members before they handed him to the army's intelligence.

Omran, the paper said, is being treated at the military hospital.

A separate quarrel took place in Beirut's Jnah district between members of the Abdel Hay family and others from the Salameh family that quickly developed into exchange of gunfire. Both families are supporters of Hizbullah.

Security sources reported no casualties, but said a member of the Salameh family soon set the house of Bilal Abdel Hay in the nearby Ouzai neighborhood on fire.

Security forces quickly stepped in and opened an investigation into the incident.

Al Mustaqbal said security forces arrested 12 suspects.

In the Western Bekaa Valley town of Mashghara, fighting between Amal gunmen and Hizbullah militants left two Amal members wounded, according to the sources.

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Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.